In 1882, the village and township decided to jointly construct a building to be used by both government agencies as their headquarters. They would jointly own, operate, and maintain the building.
A special election was held on April 16, 1883 for the purpose of getting voter approval to borrow $2,000 and issue bonds for the purpose of constructing the building. The bonds were to be payable in 2-3 years or 4-5 years, with an interest rate not to exceed 7% and be payable annually. At the election, 69 total votes were cast, with 62 “yes” votes and 7 “no” votes.
The building was designed to contain a council room, engine room for the fire department, jail, and town hall. Frederick P. Currier presented free to the village, a warranty deed for lots 105 and 106. One lot was to be used for the Town Hall and the other was to be used for a public park and grounds–Currier Park. In 1883, these lots were a small apple orchard. The apple trees were removed and 24 maple trees and 20 evergreen trees were purchased and planted. The maple trees each cost 15 cents and the evergreen trees 50 cents.
William Meyers was the builder and the building was finished March 6, 1884. This red brick structure was an example of Italianate architecture with arch windows and keystones.
In 1913, the village and the Detroit Urban Railway agreed to extend the electric railway from Romeo to Almont. By July 1914, the rail line was in operation and the depot was in the Old Town Hall’s conference room. It was a central piece of the Almont Community Homecoming that year. In the 1920s and 1930s the Star Theater was on the first floor of the Masonic Hall (110 S. Main – Randazzo’s) on the west side of South Main Street. Owen Emmons owned the theater in the 1920s and Don and Emma Killam in the late 1920s and into the 1930s. In the summer, not having air conditioning, they would take a framed sheet and hang it off the east wall of the Town Hall and project the picture onto the sheet. Seats would be set up in Currier Park. Before the introduction of “talking” pictures, they would roll the piano outside and Evesia Bartles would play the music for the movie. The smell of popcorn would fill the downtown area.
The Old Town Hall served both the Village of Almont and Almont Township until 1979 when the Municipal Building was constructed. The Municipal Building was constructed to provide adequate space for both the village and township offices and because the Old Town Hall needed substantial work to bring it up to current building codes and it was too expensive to renovate the building. For seven years, the Old Town Hall remained empty. It continued to deteriorate becoming a public eyesore. It had also been the subject of vandalism and graffiti.
Efforts to raise the funds necessary to save the Old Town Hall or to find grant monies for its preservation were not successful.
In April of 1987, Capitol Wrecking of Southfield, Michigan was hired to perform the demolition of the hall at a cost of $9,800. The demolition was done by hand to permit the approximately 40,000 bricks to be salvaged and because the hall was only a foot from the recently completed (1976) fire hall. Carter Reclaimed Bricks of Detroit did the salvage work and expected to salvage about 30,000 of the brick.
A Grand Blanc homebuilder expressed an interest in 20,000 of the bricks. The remaining bricks were expected to be sold to local people and groups who had expressed an interest in them. Once cleared, the site was converted to a parking lot.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or jrwade49@ gmail.com or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.