Granville town hall nominated for inclusion on national registery

Granville Town Hall has been nominated for the State and National Registers of Historic Places by the New York State Board for Historic Preservation.

The building provides a salient connection to Granville’s development into a regional commercial center at the turn of the twentieth century, at which time the slate quarrying industry spurred local growth and the expansion of services.

Former town historian Edie Sparling was the one who nominated the building. 

“I thought [this building] represented the town very well.  It was a part of the slate industry and one of the first banks in commercial Granville,” Sparling said.

In order to be accepted into the National Registers of Historic Places, the building has to meet the Criteria for Evaluation. 

The town hall meets two of the four areas of criteria.  The building is an example of mixed-use commercial architecture conceived to accommodate banking and office functions, erected by one of the more prominent builders active in Granville at the time and later expanded.  The building retains important aspects of its plan and finish work which are illustrative of the historic period, 1891- ca.1945.

The building also has historic association with the slate industry, and local banking and law interests.  Town Supervisor, Matt Hicks, says that this is a good thing for the building.  “This is the first step into being able to fix it up.  The building is in need of some TLC.”

If the building is accepted into the State and National Registers, the town can be assisted in revitalizing the building, making it eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants, and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.

“Matching grants allow the town to come up with an amount of money and then the National Registers would match the amount,” said Sparling, “the building is in great need of structural repairs and parts of it need to be updated.”

Once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the building will be listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places.  Then the building will be nominated to the National Register of Historic places. 

The town hall has already been accepted at the state level and is waiting to be accepted at the national level.

The town hall was formerly known as the Farmer’s National Bank & W.H. Hughes Slate Company Office, which was built in 1891 and was twice expanded between 1912 and 1943.

The original block was divided, at first story level, into two separate but connected commercial spaces accommodating bank and slate office functions, both accessed from the central entrance; the second floor consisted of offices, which in plan and finish are intact to the cited period of significance (1891-1945), while the original bank vault remains in the basement.

Granville-based contractor, Ashley S. Wilson, is credited with the construction of the building.  Wilson is also credited with erecting the Pember Museum and Library, ca. 1908-09, though it is not known whether he was responsible for the design, perhaps in collaboration with Franklin T. Pember or otherwise merely executed plans developed independently.  He is also linked to the construction of the Pember Opera House.

The Village of Granville was at one time known as The Corners and was incorporated in 1885.  By the turn of the century, it had grown into a bustling Washington County business center.  The rapid emergence of the local slate industry in the later decades of the century brought with it “boomtown-like conditions”.

It was the son of “Slate King” H.W. Hughes, William H. Hughes, who financed the construction of the building.  Hughes, like his father, was engaged in the quarrying and sale of slate and was additionally a member of the New York State Assembly.  However, his success was short lived.  His business interests collapsed in 1903, precipitating his suicide shortly thereafter.

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