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Ortonville: Historic facelift planned for Old Town Hall

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February 27, 2013 - Ortonville- The Old Town Hall has stood at the corner of Mill and Church streets in the village since 1848 and its history includes use as a courtroom by circuit judges, as a basketball half court by high school players, and for storytelling hour for children by the library.

"It has a long history of being the center of the community and therefore, it's worth taking care of," said DDA Executive Director and Main Street Manager Molly LaLone. "Taking care of old buildings takes constant work. It's a labor of love at all times."

LaLone attended the village council's Feb. 25 meeting, at which Ron Campbell, principal planner/preservation architect for Main Street Oakland County, gave a presentation on a proposed restoration project for the Old Town Hall.

As a Main Street community, Ortonville is eligible for free design services from MSOC. "We are trying to capitalize on your uniqueness," said Campbell as he showed a slide of the proposed changes to the Old Town Hall, which include a pergola style porch and other changes to the façade, including a dormer window on the second floor. "Historic buildings owned by municipalities are being restored. In 2009, a graduate student did an assessment of the Old Town Hall. The original roof is still there, it's just covered up. We can bring that back."

Campbell estimated the cost of renovations at about $55,000, mostly due to the installation of the pergola, but LaLone said some of the needed work on the Old Town Hall has already been performed, including repair of doors, walls and ceiling, as well as interior paint and those have already been paid for.

"We need about $30,000 to complete planned improvements," said LaLone. "These repairs are expensive, but the building is priceless. It's used all the time by people in the community."

The addition of the pergola on the porch, while not on the original building, is in keeping with Greek revival architecture of the time period, one of the main styles of architecture in the village.

LaLone said the DDA has set aside $17,000 this year for the Old Town Hall restoration and is planning to have construction begin in the spring. The DDA is also accepting donations and requesting assistance from MSOC.

"Any improvement to a public historic building hopefully will also inspire improvement of other historic buildings, sometimes owned by private citizens," LaLone said.

"There's a domino effect. Improvements made downtown inspire other improvement throughout the community. We love to see that."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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