Meriden Town Hall Burns Down – Today in History: February 14
On February 14, 1904, Meriden’s town hall burned to the ground. In total, the fire caused $130,000 in damages and injured 6 firefighters. Started by what authorities think were crossed electrical wires, the blaze burned for eight hours before being extinguished.
The town hall, located on East Main Street and known by residents as the “town house,” was built in 1854 at a cost of $60,000. It was dedicated in 1855. A week after its dedication, noted social reformer Reverend Henry Ward Beecher lectured there, and in March of 1860, during his presidential campaign, Abraham Lincoln spoke there to a packed house. From 1889 to 1891, the building received a complete renovation and expansion that included several additions and a clock tower.
Meriden rebuilt the hall shortly after it burned, this time designing it in the neo-classical style. This building still serves as Meriden’s city hall and bears a plaque commemorating the time Lincoln spoke at the original town hall.