Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Hall
The Grand Army of the Republic Hall (GAR Hall) is the oldest public building in Scituate. Ownership of the Hall was transferred to the Historical
Society by the Town in 1996 as the building's poor condition led Town officials to consider demolishing it. Since that time the Historical Society has
renovated the roof, floor, joists, sills, and balcony, and painted the exterior.
This project funded the completion of the long-term restoration, including the kitchen and three bathrooms, installing an HVAC
system, wiring the main area with a fire alarm, insulation and plastering of the main
area, restoration of woodwork including the stage and painting of the stage, balcony and
main area. A second part of this project included septic engineering and installation.
This project fully meets the requirements of the Town’s CPC goals for historical resources by recognizing, preserving and enhancing the historical
heritage and character for the Town’s current residents and future generations.
In 1825 the Baptist Society contracted Zeba Cushing to build a meeting house on land purchased by the Society from Nehimiah Curtis. By 1866 the fourth-one year old structure could no longer accommodate the Baptist Society’s growing flock, so the Society sold it to Joshua Jenkins of Scituate for $600.
Jenkins converted the former meeting house into a hall, constructing a stage and renting it to social and benevolent groups for meetings and entertainments. In 1875, 120 local veterans who had served in the Civil War formed George W. Perry Post #31 Grand Army of the Republic, and in 1883, purchased the hall from the Jenkins family, renaming it the Grand Army Hall.
For the next 50 years, the Grand Army Hall was the scene for many town gatherings. Patriotic speeches echoed from its walls on Memorial Day, July 4th, and later on Armistic/Veterans Day. Many an old soldier, who had shouldered a musket in Mr. Lincoln’s Army as a young man recounted stories of the mud of old Virginia within its walls. The Women’s Relief Corps organized events to raise money for disabled veterans and their families, and the Charles F. Bates Camp, Sons of Union Veterans raised money for the care of veterans’ graves in the Hall as well. In addition the Hall witnessed high school recitals and dances, minstrel shows, lectures, debates, liberty loan dries, holidasy pageants, auctions, whist parties, suppers and numerous other events. With the passing of Scituate’s last Civil War Veteran, Francis M. Litchfield, in 1936, the hall continued to be managed by the Women’s Relief Corps and the Sons of Union Veterans.
In 1953 the town of Scituate took over the Hall, and for the next twenty years it was used regularly. However, the ravages of time and neglect began to take their toll on the aging structure, and in 1997 the Town sold the building to the Scituate Historical Society.
On July 26, 2008, the Grand Army Hall, Scituate’s oldest public building, reopened, refurbished and restored, and ready for its one hundred and eighty-third year of use.
Courtesy of The Scituate Historical Society
Photos (click on image to enlarge)