The mission of the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Building is to provide the city with a commemorative monument to the patriotism of service men and women from Melrose who died for their country. It is also a cultural center for the community. It continues for the usage of meetings of the veterans and also for commemorative ceremonies marking certain dates in the history of the Veterans of the United States as well as inaugural ceremonies for the city of Melrose.
Melrose is home to one of the most distinctive performance centers on the North Shore. The gray granite building, located at 590 Main Street, is adjacent to the Central Fire Station and City Hall. Its construction was watched with much interest, and favorable comments were made on the simple yet dignified interior and exterior of the building. The building was dedicated on Dec. 14, 1912 in patriotic remembrance of the brave soldiers and sailors of the Civil War.
Memorial Hall offers a splendid setting for social, artistic, cultural, and political events. With a seating capacity of 800, the main auditorium houses a stage measuring 30′ x 40′, dressing rooms, and a public address system. A grand organ, dedicated in 1919 as a memorial to the World War I veterans, and similar in construction and musical expression to an organ in the Municipal Building in Portland, Maine, is located at the rear of the stage.
The Grand Army of the Republic Hall (GAR) is located in the upstairs portion of the building. It has a seating capacity of 60 to 100 and is adjacent to a full commercial kitchen facility. Mr. John Slayton, who donated the building to the City and was chairman of the building committee in 1912, was highly praise by the City and its citizens for his work that resulted in the completion of the building.
A resurgence of appreciation in the building initiated community interest in restoring this valuable asset. The Melrose Veterans Group and the Melrose Symphony Orchestra call the Memorial Building their home; many other community groups use the building for annual events and fund-raisers. With continued local and state support, Melrose hopes to fully restore this beautiful building.
The resurgence of interest in Memorial Hall resulted in the development of a Master Plan in 1995, which set the stage for a series of restoration projects. The Master Plan identified over $4 million worth of improvements necessary to make the building weather-tight, restore important historical features and improve the building’s functionality.
Three phases of restoration work began in 1996. Memorial Hall was made handicapped accessible with the installation of an elevator, new entrance doors, accessible bathroom facilities, and improved ramps and railings; the building was outfitted with a new roof and copper flashing; and the flagpoles atop the building, which have long been an important symbol of the building’s significance as a war memorial, were restored and the flags illuminated.
A fourth phase of work, completed in June 2000, represents a major effort to make the building weather-tight. The masonry joints were re-pointed to prevent water infiltration into the building, and windows and doors were restored. This project also included several components that improved the look and serviceability of the building: the granite facade was thoroughly cleaned and the rest rooms were built out to fully accommodate a building of this size.
Over $1.4 million dollars has been invested in Memorial Hall. Approximately half a million dollars has come from grant funding through the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the state agency responsible for historic preservation; the remainder has been funded through the City’s Capital Improvement Program. These efforts have paid dividends in terms of making the building more accessible to the public and ensuring the building’s preservation as a community treasure long into the future. They also serve as a catalyst for raising funds for additional restoration work needed to accomplish all of the goals outlined in the Master Plan.
In 2008, the Memorial Hall HVAC Project was completed, which involved the installation of air conditioning and the conversion to a hot water heating system powered by natural gas. The intent of this project was to enhance the comfort level in the building, improve building operations, and promote energy efficiency. The new HVAC system includes separate heating and cooling zones for the main auditorium and the GAR Hall, which will save energy and reduce operation costs. The completion of this project allows the City to operate Memorial Hall year-round for the first time in the building’s history.
Memorial Hall is managed by a full-time operations manager and is overseen by the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building Board of Trustees. Appointed by the Mayor, the board membership includes at least two veterans. Memorial Hall offers free parking in the City Hall parking lot, located at the rear of the building.
Whether it is a musical performance, theater group, business meeting, dance recital, concert, tradeshow, fundraiser or wedding, please call (781) 979-4185 for rental information and scheduling.
We look forward to hearing from you and hosting your event.