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Historic Cambridge City Hall Set for Exterior Restoration Project


The City of Cambridge has unveiled ambitious plans to restore the exterior façade of its iconic City Hall, an architectural gem steeped in history. This momentous undertaking is set to breathe new life into a building that has long been a symbol of the city’s heritage and civic pride.

Cambridge’s rich history is intricately woven into the fabric of City Hall, with its origins tracing back to the late 1880s. Mayor William E. Russell, a key figure in this saga, spearheaded the initiative to construct a new public library. The story took a fascinating turn when his friend, Frederick Hastings Rindge, offered to not only fund the library but also gift the city a manual training school and a new city hall.

Rindge’s vision took shape under the guidance of the esteemed architectural firm Longfellow, Alden & Harlow, and in 1890, the new City Hall, located at 795 Massachusetts Avenue, proudly rose. This majestic structure boasts a magnificent front lawn, a balcony adorned with a panel displaying Rindge’s chosen inscription, and a towering spire that stretches nearly 160 feet into the sky. Its construction showcases a harmonious blend of Longmeadow brownstone, granite, and red brick.

The City of Cambridge embarks on a 15-month façade restoration project for City Hall, a project become a beacon of modern urban living. Construction on this transformative endeavour is scheduled to commence next year and will unfold in four distinct phases.

The initial phase, slated to run until 2030, will focus on the development of the city center, covering 5 square kilometers (1.9 square miles), and the creation of six poised to preserve its historic allure. Notable among the restoration tasks is the gilding of the clock tower, a masterpiece crafted by the E. Howard Watch & Clock Company of Waltham. Remarkably, this clock, an original feature of the building, has faithfully ticked for over a century and is still wound by hand each week.

The comprehensive restoration effort encompasses masonry repairs, meticulous cleaning of the masonry, rejuvenating window panes, modernizing the tower’s lighting, installing lightning protection, and replacing the flagpole. Construction is expected to commence in the fall of 2023, following the bidding process.

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