Town Hall: Symbol of a Haunting Democracy

Built in 1873, Middleborough’s Town Hall is a stately – and some say haunted – symbol of democracy in its purest form. Middleborough is governed by the open town meeting form of government, which is led by an an elected board of selectmen and a town manager. The town's services are centralized downtown, with the fire and police headquarters being just to the north of the town hall, and the central post office being northwest of it. The town library is also located downtown.

Construction of the Middleborough Town Hall began in 1871, on donated land. The building once served as a district court house, community center, post office and jail. About 10 years ago the building had a $3 million dollar renovation. The Grand Ballroom is on the second level and can be rented for a variety of activities, from birthday parties to weddings to theater presentations. The architectural wonders of this room can be seen during normal business hours – whenever town hall is open for business. One of the unique features of the ballroom is its air conditioning. It features the earliest form of air conditioning by way of opening the windows in the cupola to create air flow.

Outside the grand, Victorian-style town hall is the All War Memorial; a moving and lasting memorial to all Middleborough residents who have served during times of war.

The big question surrounding Middleborough’s Town Hall: Is it haunted? A variety of paranormal investigators seem to think so. Sounds of footsteps in the Grand Ballroom have been reported. Some people claim to have seen an apparition which is allegedly the ghost of Solomon K. Eaton. Mr. Eaton was the original architect of the building. However, he died before the building was completed in 1873. Horatio Barrows then was hired as the new architect and is credited as the building architect. It is rumored that Mr. Eaton haunts the building because he didn't receive credit for his work.

Other people believe that the haunted happenings in Town Hall stem from a July 1903 siege and riot. In the early hours of July 4, 1903, Town Hall came under siege. Wagons were burned, houses and barns were set ablaze, and bonfires were set throughout the downtown. According to Antiquarian magazine, published by the town’s historical association, the mob responsible for the riot was led by members of the Reformers, a political group. Police from Brockton and sheriff’s officers from Plymouth were called in to assist in quelling the disturbance. Exactly what triggered the incident is lost in the haze of history, though some claim it was due to a friend of the rioters being arrested. Perhaps some of those rioters, or their unlucky friend, are wandering the halls to this very day.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Jacquelyn Photography and Design.