Historic Montague Town Hall awning to be restored

  • The town has hired a silversmith to restore the awning over Town Hall’s front door, which is at least 120 years old. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • The awning over Montague Town Hall’s front door features a stamped copper trim, typically used for detailing of city buildings. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Restoring the awning over Montague Town Hall’s front door will involve re-soldering copper that has come loose and replacing missing glass tiles. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/4/2019 9:25:15 PM
Modified: 7/4/2019 9:25:04 PM

MONTAGUE — The awning over Town Hall’s front door is more than a century old and looks its age: The metal frame is bent out of shape and disjointed in places, and pieces of glass paneling are missing.

So a silversmith has been contracted to restore it. The work was approved by the Selectboard on Monday, and will cost $8,975. The awning will be removed likely in the third week of July, and will likely be back up in mid-August, Town Administrator Steve Ellis said.

The awning appears to be mostly copper with some brass, said Steve Smithers, the Ashfield silversmith who will be doing the restoration. He called the patterned outer metal a “stamped copper trim,” a style that is still used for detailing on city buildings.

“It’s a really beautiful piece of work,” Smithers said.

Hanging down from the metal framing are inlaid colored glass panels. Behind them are light bulb sockets, so the fixture can light up in the dark.

The awning has been in Montague since the late 1800s, but the details of its history are not totally clear. Ellis said he thought the awning had originally been on a different building in town, but wasn’t sure which one. Historical Commission Chairman Ed Gregory said he thought the awning was original to the building that is now Town Hall, which was built in 1886 as a social gathering place.

Most of the work will involve straightening the metal frame and re-soldering pieces that were originally connected but have come apart, Smithers said. Replacements for the missing glass pieces will come from Wilmark Studios, a stained glass studio in Shelburne Falls, he said.

The weathered green look of the awning is the patina that copper naturally takes on as it ages, Smithers said. Any new copper will be imparted with a patina so the appearance is consistent, he said.

“It won’t look to the close eye like this thing is falling apart,” Smithers said. “People can focus on the beautiful workmanship of the design.”

 

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.


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