1874 Town Hall
The Town Hall Museum faces the Bedford City Commons. Most popular during the 1870s after the Civil War, this unique Victorian architecture is more formally referred to as French Second Empire, this was the first true style of the Victorian era in the United States. It also became known as the “General Grant style” due to its use during the Grant administration for public buildings. The Mansard is its key feature with dormer windows in the upper floor and includes a square, central tower.
The building’s primary use when built was for government offices on the first floor, a jail in the basement, an opera house on the second floor, and the third floor was used as the lodge hallo of the Bedford Masonic Order, a major contributor to the building effort. In 1951, the last Township communities became self-governing, and the Town Hall stood vacant. The City of Bedford moved its offices into the Town Hall for a period while a new city hall was constructed. In 1964, the Bedford Historical Society purchased the building and began its reconstruction.
Today, the Town Hall Museum houses an archive and library, museum store and gift shop, and four floors of museum exhibits, including late 1800 agriculture and home furnishings, American Centennial objects, Bedford, made chairs and china, a print shop, and midget auto racing items.
The 1874 Town Hall is located on Bedford Public Square at 30 South Park (Squire Place). The three-story brick building is constructed in the Second Empire Style. It has been renovated and upgraded periodically over the years. In 2004, the Historical Society a rear addition allows the building to be handicapped accessible. The building is home to the Town Hall Museum housing the major collections, library, archives, and general offices of the Historical Society. It is on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974.
Significant Collections within the Town Hall Museum:
Various home, farm, and business tools from the 1800s;
Extensive home furnishings mainly from 1850 to World War I;
Extensive clothing and textiles; military uniforms, small arms, and assorted memorabilia;
Bedford Fire fighting equipment;
Early office equipment;
Extensive forms of lighting;
Wm. Jacka 1876 Centennial coin and memorabilia collection;
Extensive Walker China collection;
Extensive Taylor and Marble chair collection;
Hazen’s early baseball card collection;
Indian artifacts including local arrowheads;
Sportsman’s Park racing memorabilia collection;
Railroad equipment collection.
The 12,000 volume library is broadly based on general Americana, with special emphasis on Ohio history.
It is strong in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and Western Reserve books and periodicals.
The Lincoln & Civil War Room contains the Squire collection of 1,000 books on Abraham Lincoln with a compiled bibliography.
The Civil War Room also contains the Barnum Civil War library including collections of letters and documents, regimental histories and rosters, and service records of 261 Bedford Township men who served in the Union Army.
Library holdings also include: books from Bedford’s first library, the 1880s;
U.S. 1876 Centennial books;
Early periodicals including National Geographic, Scientific American, Life;
Leonard Siegel Railroad and Trolley books and periodicals;
Extensive holdings of Bedford newspapers.
Bedford township journals and papers covering the period 1834 to 1951;
JP docket books, trustee minutes, district school records, road records;
The City of Bedford records includes 180 volumes of town records from 1860 to 1950.
As the designated depository for the city, other documents include an extensive accumulation of Bedford governmental papers, reports, directories, election records and other holdings.
Additional archival information includes area farm journals and ledgers, merchant account books and invoices, records of local industries and manufacturers, clubs, lodges and diaries;
Field notes, sketches, and maps by naturalists exploring the Tinker’s Creek Gorge and environs in the Bedford Reservation;
An extensive map collection;
An extensive photograph collection.
The genealogy section contains numerous published books about local families;
Binders of indexed local individuals and families;
Burials in Bedford Cemetery;
Local newspaper obituaries and death notices;
Military records of Bedford Township residents who served during the Civil War, War with Spain, World War I & II, Korean War, and Vietnam Conflict.