ROCHESTER — When a brand new fire station opened more than a century ago, the people of Rochester were proud of the city’s newest building. The reaction was much the same last week as that same building — now the City Hall Annex — was celebrated at a grand re-opening following a significant renovation project.
“Historic buildings are tangible reminders of our city’s culture and complexity,” Historic District Commission Chair Molly Meulenbroek said. “The City Hall Annex is indeed a gem that contributes immeasurably to our downtown’s fabric.”
The project was completed over the course of the last year after several years spent considering the building’s future, beginning with a feasibility study in 2007. The building had been abandoned for over a decade after the Rochester Police stopped using it as a station.
As work began on the Annex, contractors discovered that its original 1900s facade was hidden behind a layer of brick that was the product of an initial overhaul of the building done in the 1970s, and changed course to incorporate that historically significant structure.
The restoration was completed approximately $90,000 under its original budget.
“This was a unique, challenging and collaborative process,” Senior Architect Ken Weston of Oak Point Associates said, “and I think it turned out pretty special.”
Meulenbroek added that the restoration of the Annex will in turn revitalize the area of downtown that surrounds the building, and will serve as a hub of activity that will benefit residents and businesses alike.
This project was financed in part with federal funds from the National Park Service and Department of the Interior. It was also aided by the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources through the sale of Conservation License Plates, and the N.H. Land and Community Heritage Investment Program.
“The Annex was a great source of pride for the city when it originally opened, and it is once again something that we can all take pride in,” City Manager Daniel Fitzpatrick said. “Restoring the original character of a building with as much historical significance as this one would not have been possible without the work of so many people, and I am glad that their dedication has paid off in the form of an invaluable asset for the people of Rochester.”
Once fully occupied, the Annex will serve as a gateway for residents and developers doing business in Rochester. The Office of Economic and Community Development, Department of Building, Zoning and Licensing Services and Planning Department will all be located in the newly restored building.
With the ribbon now cut, those departments will begin moving into their new offices, and the Annex is expected to be fully open and operational by the end the week.