Town House Road, west side (0.025 m South of Maple Avenue)

Durham’s Town Hall stands on the west side of the Green, surrounded on three sides by Durham’s major nineteenth-century cemetery.

  • Record ID: 89
  • Address: Town House Road, west side (0.025 m South of Maple Avenue)
  • Current Owner: Town of Durham,
  • Name of Building:
  • Historic Name: South Congregational Church
  • Download PDF of Original Record

Notable Features

The Town Hall is a 57 x 37 temple-form Greek-Revival-style public building. As built, the structure’s facade was dominated by a fully pedimented portico supported by four
Doric columns with flat-moulded antae pilasters. This portico was removed in the late 1920s. The north and south elevations contained four full-length windows, but these
were truncated and separated by spandrels when the church was converted to secular uses early in this century. The structure was once surmounted by a square colonaded bell tower which was removed at the turn of the century. A concrete single-story addition was added to the rear of the structure during the 1970s.

Historical or Architectural Importance

When Durham’s second meeting house burned in 1836, at a time when the congregation was fraught with dissention, while one faction favored rebuilding the church on the green near where it had always stood, another faction favored a location to the north of Allyn’s Brook. Unable to agree, the congregation broke apart. Two churches were erected: one, the building which is now the Town Hall, the other, the present united Church. The controversy nearly split the town in two–and for many years one party collected its mail and worshipped to the north of Allyn’s Brook, while the other worshipped and collected its mail to the south. (The connection of two controversies is attested to by the fact that the postmaster of the Durham Center post office in the south end was the former minister, David Smith–who was succeeded by his daughter Catherine C. Smith.) The two ecclesiastical factions reunited early in the twentieth century when the South Congregational Church was purchased by the town to house its offices.