Every Massachusetts community aspired to have a town hall and public library of architectural distinction. The Nahant Civic Historic District has fine examples of each, plus a handsome commercial block of the same period. The intersection of Nahant Road and Pleasant Street has been the focus of public life in this town since the early nineteenth century. The Nahant Public Library began as a private subscription library founded in 1819, which was transferred to town ownership in 1872, making it one of the earliest public libraries in the commonwealth. Having been housed in school buildings and the town hall, the library finally achieved its own home in 1895, when the handsome granite building (15 Pleasant Street) by Ball and Dabney was dedicated. Ernest Bowditch laid out the grounds. The Post Office Block (332 Nahant Road), a Colonial Revival frame structure articulated by slender pilasters, was constructed in 1900–1901 on land owned by Francis H. Johnson, who was active in real estate development in Nahant. Here the post office still remains; the original grocery store replaced by a convenience store. When the first town hall (1868) became too small, the town appointed a committee to consider remodeling or constructing a new building. They consulted the architectural firm of Andrews, Jaques and Rantoul, who recommended a new building, which they subsequently designed in 1912. The town hall (334 Nahant Road), built of buff brick and cast stone, follows the common patterns of the Colonial Revival, in contrast to the English allusions of the library across Pleasant Street. These two relatively unaltered structures continue to serve their original functions.
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Nahant Civic Historic District
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