Storm damages historic town hall

Published 4:33 pm Monday, July 20, 2020

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BELHAVEN — The old Town Hall in Belhaven had a “Back to the Future” moment last Wednesday as the building was struck by lightning during a powerful storm. The lightning strike caused a small fire in the cupola of the historic structure, which was then extinguished by heavy rains.

“We have been able to watch area video surveillance and see the strike,” Belhaven Town Manager Lynn Davis said. “It’s like it separated the corners and that section caught on fire. Because of the rain, we were truly fortunate, because if it had not been raining like it was, we probably would have lost the building.”

The iconic building, which is still owned by the Town of Belhaven, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981.

Fortunately, Davis says the damage was contained at the top of the building, and there was no damage to any of the artifacts housed in the Belhaven Memorial Museum on the second floor of the building. For the time being, the cupola of the building has been covered with a tarp as the town seeks contractors to repair the demage.

“Because the building is more than 100 years old, we called the state Historic Preservation Office, because when we make the repairs, we want to do them appropriately and accurately,” Davis said.

In addition to housing the Belhaven Memorial Museum, the building is also used as a hub for community activities throughout the year. Davis says the building is insured, and the town is still waiting to hear back from adjusters.

“We feel like we really got lucky on that one,” Davis said.