Location: Memorial Hall, 1029 Central Street, Palmer
Coordinates: 42°09’24.0″N 72°19’38.2″W
Date dedicated: April 29, 1891
Architect/sculptor/manufacturer: Robert H. Robertson of New York, architect; William N. Flynt Co. of Monson, construction
Number of names: 216 who served
Palmer’s Memorial Hall was constructed in 1890 and dedicated on April 29, 1891. Architect Robert H. Robertson of New York designed the building. One of the leading architects of his time, he designed numerous landmarks in New York City and elsewhere. This building is exemplary of his Richardsonian Romanesque phase. He later became a pioneer in skyscraper design–the Park Row Building in Manhattan perhaps being his most famous and one of the first buildings in the world to be called a skyscraper.
Memorial Hall originally served as both a library (on the first floor) and a meeting place for the local Grand Army of the Republic, L. L. Merrick Post #107. The two spaces have separate entrances, side by side. The original “Memorial Hall” sign over the left door leading to the G.A.R. Hall is still intact. The stairway leading to the hall contains tablets on which are inscribed the names of those from Palmer who served in the Civil War–216 in total. The G.A.R. hall is fundamentally intact and features original stained glass windows and finely carved oak paneling. In 1977 the town library vacated the first floor space for new quarters. The first floor now houses the offices of the Palmer Senior Center.
The GAR Hall and library were dedicated in separate ceremonies–Memorial Hall in the morning and the library in the afternoon. During the Memorial Hall dedication ceremonies, the oration was given by Rev. Edward A. Perry, then a pastor in Fort Plain, New York but previously pastor in Palmer. Born in Framingham, Massachusetts, he served with the 5th Massachusetts Infantry as a young man, before he became a minister.
The post was named for Sergeant Lucius Lathrop Merrick who served with the 36th Massachusetts Infantry. A plaque in the stairway placed in 1905 honoring his memory states, “By his character and fidelity he achieved an honorable fame as a soldier of the Civil War.” Sgt. Merrick was born in Palmer, graduated from Amherst College in 1860, and was preparing for the ministry when the war began.
He joined up on July 9, 1862 with the 36th Massachusetts. He was wounded on November 16, 1863 in the Battle of Campbell Station, Tennessee. Almost a year later, his regiment was involved in the Siege of Petersburg. During the Battle of Poplar Spring Church (an effort to extend the Union siege lines further around Petersburg) on September 30, 1864, the 36th Massachusetts was heavily engaged and Sgt. Merrick was again wounded and taken prisoner. He was soon paroled but died on board a flag-of-truce boat (presumably a prisoner exchange boat en route to Washington). The 36th Massachusetts regimental history asserted that Sgt. Merrick “had much to do in maintaining the tone of morality” in the regiment and that “he was one of the best soldiers in the regiment…his death caused sincere grief.”
Our sincerest thanks to the Palmer Senior Center for assistance in accessing the site.
Click photos to enlarge:
 Worcester Daily Spy, May 1, 1891, 5.
 Otsego Farmer, December 10, 1907.
 Henry Sweetser Burrage, et. al., History of the Thirty-sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers 1862-1865, (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1884), 263 and 313.