In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Bath's Historic Downtown

Old Town Hall and Grant Building

Text by Jocelyn Bernier, Savannah Rice, Shawn Russell, and Cody Seekins
7th grade students at Bath Middle School
With images from Patten Free Library

Center Street, Bath, ca. 1925
Center Street, Bath, ca. 1925

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

The Old City Hall was located on the northeastern corner of Water and Centre Streets in Bath. It was finished in 1838 and demolished in 1936. By 1937 the W.T. Grant building was finished at the same location, 33 Centre Street. The Grant store was a national chain specializing in merchandise under a dollar. The Grant building is brick with a front of granite and limestone in the art deco style. There were 473 Grant stores nationwide. It was a popular department store used by many citizens of Bath.

Bath Town Hall, ca. 1908
Bath Town Hall, ca. 1908

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

The earlier building at the Grants Building site was the Old City Hall which was built in 1837 as Town Hall before Bath became a city in 1847. From President Andrew Jackson's administration, Bath received $10,000 from the government, $4,000 of which went toward building the Old City Hall. Right before this new Town Hall was occupied, the “Great Fire of 1837” decimated most of the early records thought to be safely in storage. The Old City Hall was a brick, two and a half story building with a belfry that was added in 1861. The Paul Revere bell was eventually added to the belfry in 1861. This bell used to be in the North Church belfry on High Street until it was transported to City Hall. The bell rang every morning, noon, and night. The bell is currently in the tower on top of the new City Hall, the Davenport Memorial. In the Old City Hall there used to be a police station in the basement of the building. The records of Bath were stored in this building until the current City Hall was built in 1929. The Old City Hall narrowly escaped destruction in the fire of 1894 which destroyed all of that block of Centre Street east to Front Street.

Former Town/City Hall, Bath, ca. 1933
Former Town/City Hall, Bath, ca. 1933

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library
Downtown Centre Street, Bath, 1948
Downtown Centre Street, Bath, 1948

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

The Grant Building was built at the end of the Depression when national chain stores came to Bath. W.T. Grant Co. stayed in the building until 1965. In the 1960's all chain stores left Bath and went to Cook's Corner and Brunswick.

The purpose of the Old City Hall was to house the city government, including a mayor's office, a treasurer's office, assessor's office and the police department. Bath was incorporated as a town in 1781 while Maine was still part of Massachusetts. The community, beginning to grow rapidly, decided to become a city in 1847. It was also the place to store files but people thought that it wasn't a safe place to store valuable documents because it didn't have a safe to hold the files. Many thought that the building was a rundown structure, that wasn't a safe enough place for the files to be held. They say it was very odorous and it wasn't a building to be enthusiastic over (The American Sentinel of February, 1883).

In more recent years the building was used by Bath Iron Works and the U.S. Navy and for more than the last ten years by R.M. Tate Co. Tate's, like Grant's, is a department store that offers inexpensive merchandise.