LYNN — When the new Memorial City Hall and Auditorium opened on Sept. 8, 1949, the Item reported it “took its place today as a civic and cultural center after solemn and impressive dedication ceremonies … that attracted an unexpected throng of citizens, estimated by police at more than 8,000 persons.”
It was and will forever be a building for every resident of Lynn.
Tuesday, from 5 to 7 p.m., a 70th anniversary salute to City Hall will include the debut of “city hALL,” a project that features four floors of art, educational hallways of history, a tribute to the city’s veterans, and a new community gallery.
Carolyn Cole, of the Community Development department and director of the Downtown Lynn Cultural District, said “city hALL” tells Lynn’s story within the visual concept of a tree, showcasing Lynn’s rise and those who contributed to it. Themes specifically highlighted on each floor are Roots/Community, Maritime, History and Industry/Innovation.
“A few weeks before Mayor McGee’s inauguration, he asked, ‘Hey, can we get some art in here, like there is at the State House?’ ” said Lynn native Cole, leading a reporter on a sneak preview “city hALL” tour.
“This is the result, and it’s free and open to ALL,” said Cole. “The art had to be representative of people in the community and it ended up being their art.”
The lobby shines a spotlight on the city’s veterans, and an installation by a group of Raw Art Works students has a “Together we grow” theme.
The first floor has a roots/community theme. “It’s all about telling a story,” said Cole. Outside of Room 301, the Veterans office, is an impressive plaque made by students in Lynn Tech’s metal shop. It reads, “We will never forget. To all our veterans, thank you.”
The walls are covered with art of all stripes, including many photos of city scenes. Annie Rose Liber, age 3, loves to take snapshots and a few of her photos are displayed, giving a kids-eye-view of Lynn. A large paper tree, created by Shoemaker School students, follows the roots theme, as does work by participants in the Oasis Art Therapy Teen Workshop.
The second floor has a maritime theme. Annette Sykes, director of Galleries at LynnArts, donated more than 20 of her paintings, including a large oil on canvas of a sunset over the ocean. A woman who works at City Hall submitted a painting she created at a wine-and-paint-night event, and pictures of fish by youngsters from a previous All City Lynn Public Schools show proves that everyone can be included in this project.
The third floor’s centerpiece is an impressive Wall of Mayors exhibit that honors every person who has held the city’s top office. It leads to the office of current Mayor Thomas McGee. It’s historical and educational, and something longtime city residents should check out. Hearing Room 302 has been transformed into a community gallery, run by Lynn’s Public Arts Commission, that has photographs by the Lynn Shutter Society and will spotlight organizations making a positive impact in the city.
The fourth floor focuses on industry and innovation. There are exhibits of memorabilia regarding the Narrow Gauge Railroad, the shoe industry and the Underground Railroad. One wall next to the Public Health office will pay tribute to Lynn Hospital, and there’s a stunning portrait of a nursing school graduate from that long-gone facility’s lobby.
Although it will not be ready for Tuesday’s celebration, another wall will be devoted to General Electric and its importance to the city and region. A vintage GE engine will be displayed, as well.
The free event starts at 5 p.m. in City Hall’s Veterans’ Memorial Lobby. Mayor Thomas McGee and invited guests will briefly address the crowd, then Lynn’s Michelle Guzman of Lynn Walking Shoe Tours will guide attendees through the historic building. For those who prefer self-guided tours, maps will be available. The event winds down at 7 p.m.
An opening reception of Lynn City Hall’s new Community Gallery in Hearing Room 302 begins at 6 p.m.
Free parking will be available in the city’s Andrew Street lot, in the Lynn District Courthouse lot and at metered on-street spots near City Hall.