Old Relics Brought to Light In the City Hall

by Laurel | February 18th, 2013

27 March 1904

City Hall

City Hall

The donjon keep of the Holyoke City Hall was overhauled yesterday in anticipation of the storing of city documents which have been accumulating in the various offices of the city for the past score or so of years. The board of public works has bought a vault door, which will be placed in position and surrounded with fireproof masonry the coming week, and the interior of this room, located under the city hall tower and said to have walls 12 feet thick, will then be available for storage purposes.

In cleaning the room yesterday many interesting relics were brought out to the light of day. There was the old desk that was used in the old station on High street — a square wooden building back of the old Second Congregational Church that stood at the corner of High and Dwight streets, and which was later moved down high street and again until it is not certain where it now is. There was the old clock that once ticked the hours for the unjust and the unfortunate. The city hall was occupied in 1875, so some of these relics of 30 years ago have been pretty well forgotten. Few perhaps will recall who the contractor was for the city hall — Richard Ponsonby, whose luck turned and who gave up the contract for the building, which was finally finished by the city. His old derrick irons, stored in this room at the time, were among the curios removed yesterday.

In a forgotten corner of the room, dusty with years, were also found two plaster casts of footmarks — casts that played an important part in an important criminal prosecution, and which landed the culprit behind bars. Many have forgotten perhaps the circumstances; how the tracks were found, plaster of paris poured in, and the casts so made compared with the boots of a person suspected, with the result that the guilt of the man suspected was so clearly proved as to be beyond question. This was the work of Timothy Haley, now captain of the police force, and won for him, together with several other astute performances, a reputation for detective ability that extended beyond the city of Holyoke.

The old room has been used for the past few years for the storage of liquor seized at various illegal resorts, and now a new storage place will have to be found. Various collections of “empties” of barrels, casks and kegs, bottles and glasses, cob-webbed and dust-covered, were unceremoniously made to budge out of their hiding places yesterday, and all made ready for the new uses that the city is to make of the room.

Perhaps in another 25 years the police will be occupying new quarters, and take with them equally interesting mementos — in fact, this is assured from the collection of mementos of various crimes that now has been cased and brought together.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.


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