Monday, June 29, 2009

My Town Monday: Old Town Hall (Brighton)

Standing on the edge of the Mill Pond in downtown Brighton, Michigan, is the Old Town Hall. It was built in 1878-79.

The settlement of Brighton was established in 1832 by Maynard Maltby. Now, there's a name you don't hear much these days. Well, Maynard, at least. Around here, Maltby is a road and a school. It's one of those local names that most people know without knowing the history. But once upon a time, he was a settler. Maynard Maltby started a little town called Ore Creek, named after the stream that flows through the town.

Originally, the town hall housed village council offices, a visiting room, a jail and a firehouse. Talk about a multi-function building. Of course, in those days, there were only a handful of people in the town.

The building, made from brick and featuring a bell tower on the roof, has been restored. Fun fact: The Old Town Hall... is not square. The side walls are parallel. The back wall is square with the side walls. But, for whatever reason and lost to time, the front wall is not square.

The town hall is currently located on the other side of the Mill Pond, sharing space with the library until the library moved, again.

In the picture, you can see the Yum Yum Tree sits just beyond the Old Town Hall. There's a little road that was turned one way a few years back. Used to be that people would gather on the grass (grass!) between the Town Hall and the then-bank to watch holiday parades and such.

In 1927, the (Old) Town Hall housed a one-room weekend lending library, which grew and grew.

In 1981, the library moved to a new location on the other side of the Mill Pond. That building isn't as cool looking as the Old Town Hall. Kind of a plain 1970s/80s metal, glass and brick building. Later, in the early 1990s, the Brighton Library moved again. This time to a new building (still architecturally boring, IMHO) but large and open and on the aptly named Library Drive.

(What happens if the library moves again? Probably what happened when the movie theater moved from Cinema Drive to a new location... that road is now Best Buy Drive and leads to, well, you figure it out.)

As for the Old Town Hall, when the library vacated, the building became Poor Richard's Bookstore. It operated for about a decade. After that, the local paper opened a second branch of it's offices. But the economy took care of that excess. Now, the building is empty again, waiting. There's talk of three non-profits taking over the building-- including a theater group and the local historal society, with plans to showcase local history displays.


pattinase (abbott) said...

You gonna keep doing this after this week? I can't decide.

Clair Dickson said...

Yeah-- I'm gonna keep going. I'm enjoying myself. =)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Okay, we'll keep Michigan alive between the two of us.

Barrie said...

I love the photos in this post. I didn't realize there really was a yum yum tree! Hey, Clair, I'd be happy to keep MTM alive with you. Maybe we could trade off by month? You do July; I do August? Etc.

Barbara Martin said...

I really like the shape of the Town Hall. Very unique.

I'm continuing with MTM as I have an ongoing series of neverending history.