Plymouth’s Old Town Hall is home to the Plymouth History Museum. This building was built in 1885, making it 133 years old.
In 1985, Plymouth Historical Society published the following history of Old Town Hall’s construction:
In the early 1880s the rapidly growing town of Plymouth came to realize it needed a public building from which to carry on its official business.
It was probably in the fall of 1884 that Clem Mengelkoch and Tom Ditter were asked by the Town Board to see about building a town hall. Clem was a carpenter and Tom a lather and plasterer. After much thought and planning they drew up plans for a modest white frame building that could serve the purpose.
The total cost was agreed upon at $2625 for everything, from 6″ wide shingles to a stove; this amounted to about $3 per square foot, and was paid for completely from local taxes.
The idea of building this town hall was overwhelmingly approved by the townsfolk at a special meeting held on the lawn of Dan Parker’s house. Those voting yes were asked to stand on the west side and greatly outnumbered those opposed standing on the east side.
As the two men studied a map of Plymouth, Clem flicked the ash from his cigar and pointed a long bony finger at the geographic center of Plymouth and proceeded to sell Tom on the logic of that being a good place to build a building. After this site was chosen, Charles Farrington donated some pasture land with the agreement that a fence be put up to keep his cows from making slippery spots near the building. The road in front was soon to be called Town Hall Cross Road.
Construction methods were quite simple compared to today’s complicated ways. No survey was needed and the building was located by driving corner stakes so that the least number of trees would be removed. Neither architect’s plans or inspections were required.
All material had to be hauled by teams of horses or oxen and many hands put up the structure at a traditional “Building Bee.”
Construction on the building began in the spring of 1885 and was completed in the late fall of the same year.
In the 1970s, the Old Town Hall was moved to accommodate the widening of Fernbrook Lane. At this time, the foundation and basement were redone, the windows replaced, and some of the wooden siding was swapped out. But the building is still located at the heart of Plymouth. It still features the nails driven by Clem Mengelkoch and the original plaster and lathe applied by Tom Ditter.
To learn more about Clemens Mengelkoch and the Ditter Family, please see our Family Histories webpage.