Holiday Lights, Music Mark Muncipal Group's 100 Years

Dec 6, 2013

A complex of municipal buildings in Springfield, Massachusetts is 100 years old.  Anniversary festivities are taking place this weekend

A post card shows the Municipal Group in Springfield, MA
Credit Boston Public Library

A holiday lighting ceremony, concerts, tours and displays of old photographs and memorabilia will mark the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the civic landmarks collectively known as the Municipal Group. It consists of two Greek Revival-style buildings made of limestone and marble that house Springfield City Hall and Symphony Hall.  Between the two is a 300-foot Italian Campanile clock tower.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno will open City Hall to tours following the holiday lighting ceremony at 5:30 this evening across the street in Court Square. There will be performances in City Hall by a children’s chorus.  The buildings will be decorated with flowers donated by a half-dozen local florists.

The other highlights of the celebration are the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops Concert on Saturday night, and a free concert in Symphony Hall Sunday at 2 by the Massachusetts Army National Guard band.

The city’s director of Parks and Buildings, Patrick Sullivan says the buildings that house City Hall and Symphony Hall have been maintained through the decades to a high standard.

" Two thousand Italian immigrants were brought here to build the complex, so it is a testament to their workmanship. We are very proud to be able to maintain it and keep this historic structure very special for the city," said Sullivan.

The steel frame holding up the clock tower is rusting and pushing out on the limestone blocks. The bells in the tower that once played 16  notes of Handel’s Messiah have not made a sound in about 30 years. The four clock faces have not told the correct time in eight years.  Repairs will cost an estimated $8 -$10 million.

" This is an historic site, so hopefully we can get some federal grants, state grants and city money  to make it all happen," said Sullivan.

Participating in the festivities will be Jonathan Fantini Porter, the great- grandson of John Dennison, who was mayor of Springfield when the Municipal Group was dedicated on December 8, 1913.

Memorabilia on display for the 100th anniversary of the Municipal Group include a key that was presented at the dedication of the buildings on Dec. 8, 1913
Credit WAMC

A key that was presented to Mayor Dennison to mark the dedication of the buildings was discovered earlier this year for sale on EBay. It was purchased for $200 by the Spirit of Springfield and is on display in the City Hall lobby.