LONDONDERRY, NH – The town is looking for input from residents as it explores options for renovating the historic former Lions Hall building at 256 Mammoth Road.
A public information and listening session will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Oct. 14, in the Moose Hill Council Chambers, Londonderry Town Hall, 268B Mammoth Road.
The session is open to the public, who can ask questions and share input. A digital submission form will be made available in advance of the meeting for those who can’t attend, according to a post on the town website.
The building is “an important physical and symbolic part of Londonderry’s long history,” the post announcing the meeting says. “The town of Londonderry recognizes the deep connection many residents have to this building. A number of those residents expressed interest in sharing their ideas about the future of the Lions Hall. The town welcomes and encourages this input.”
Initial estimates to renovate the building ranged from $850,000 to more than $2 million, depending on the scope of the work, the town council was told last October. Councilors at the time agreed that, given the historic nature of the building and its connection to the community, tearing it down was not currently being considered.
Parts of the 5,000-square-foot, two-story white clapboard building date back to the 1700s, when it was built as a church and meeting house at the corner of Harvey and Pillsbury roads.
It was moved to the town common, and enlarged, in 1837, and was known as the Rev. William Morrison Meeting House. The town bought the building in 1900, and it was the town hall until the late 1960s, according to the town’s appraisal information.
The Lions Club began leasing it in 1972, but ended their agreement last October, when it became clear that structural and maintenance issues had to be addressed.
During the 50 years the Lions Club was tenant, it was the center of many town events, including the Lions annual Christmas tree sale. Residents rented out the space for weddings and other celebrations.
It is also a significant part of the town’s historic common, and considered a major historic building in Londonderry.
While the building has undergone many renovations over the years, but as it has aged, maintenance and structural issues became more than what the Lions Club could keep up with, officials said last year when the club moved out.
The town staff is in the research and development stages of the hall’s next phase. Project manager and Director of Public Works Dave Wholley is working with engineering firm Weston & Sampson to address major structural updates that are required to meet safety and accessibility requirements, according to the post.
Wholley told the town council last year that the building must be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and upgrades are needed on interior systems and other issues. In July, the council approved spending $18,750 in American Rescue Plan Act money on the initial studies on the building’s condition.
The assessment “will also give the town more concrete information about the opportunities and limitations of the site,” the post announcing the Oct. 14 meeting said.
Once that information is gathered, the council will discuss how to move the project forward. After that, town staff will refine the plan to include more detailed design, use and maintenance information, according to the post.
“The presentation of the initial concept plan by Weston & Sampson is the starting point for community involvement, not a final or unchangeable concept,” the post says.
At that time, community input will be actively sought “to ensure that the revitalized Lions Hall will be a true community center, able to be utilized and enjoyed by as much of the community as possible.”