Newly renovated, expanded Taunton City Hall to reopen next month a decade after arson

TAUNTON, Mass. (WLNE) – A decade after an arsonist set fire to Taunton City Hall, the building is reopening next month newly renovated and expanded.

It was in August of 2010 when a fire tore through the building. Fire officials at the time said it was started in the fourth-floor attic.

“Unfortunately it was an arson that was never solved. From my understanding, the statute of limitations on the state side has run out,” said Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell on a tour of the building Monday afternoon.

The newly renovated building has been under construction since February of 2010, and O’Connell said it was finished under budget and on time.

“Everything is brand new and more 21st-century city government. So people can come in here, our constituents, our citizens, and really expect top-notch services from all of our employees,” said Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell on a tour of the building Monday afternoon.

City employees in Taunton have been working out of an old elementary school on Oak Street for the past 10 years while the city worked to afford the $27 million in renovations.

“They’ve been working under these conditions for almost a decade now and they’ve really stepped up to the plate for it. They deserve to be working in a building like this.”

Another reason why it took 10 years is due to the city taking over the former Star Theatre next door to City Hall. The crumbling building was torn down, and in its place, an addition was built.

The original City Hall was split into two pieces, one built in 1946, and one built in 1896. The 1896 portion was saved and renovated, and the 1846 portion was torn down due to its condition.

Pieces of history were saved, like plaques in the front, fireplaces and old vault doors.

While no one was held responsible for the arson, O’Connell said they’re ready to just put this chapter behind them.

“We are just looking at this as nothing but positive, and moving forward for our whole entire community. It’ll be great to be back downtown, bring everyone back in here, really keep revitalizing the downtown area in Taunton.”

City employees will start to move into the new building starting October 9 over four days, and city hall will be fully functional by October 14.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Massachusetts, News