The Walker Building: A lot of potential that needs a lot of work

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The Walker Building: A lot of potential that needs a lot of work
The exterior of the Frank D. Walker Building. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

MARLBOROUGH – There are plenty of “used to bes” within the Frank D. Walker Building on Main Street.

It’s been the site for the high school, the Board of Health, the Recreation Department, the senior center, Students Against Destructive Decisions and even a homeless shelter.

Until last fall, it was the temporary site for the Marlborough Public Library. Now that the library’s moved back to its original home, its former space at the Walker Building stands vacant.

In fact, most of the building is vacant. The only tenants include the Community Cupboard in the back of the first floor, and the office for state Sen. Jamie Eldridge on the second floor.

“It could be a lot of uses,” said Mayor J. Christian Dumais. “It depends on what the purpose could be.”

From the ground up

The Frank D. Walker Building is on 255 Main St. It was built in 1897, on the site of the Old Town Common and the city’s first meetinghouse. It was named in honor of Walker, a former mayor, in 1980.

The building is listed with the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

Dan Jackson is a lifelong resident who works for the city’s Public Facilities Department. He has known the Walker since he played on the outside lawn when he was a boy.

“It’s a wonderful building, but it needs a lot of love,” he said.

Jackson recently led the Community Advocate on a tour of the building.

The basement is used to store old municipal files and office furniture. One part of it still shows the logo for Jean’s, a gymnastics center that moved out years ago.

The first floor includes several rooms that could be used for offices with a little effort.

The second floor includes several areas in various states of renovation. Walls have been torn down, the fixtures and flooring removed. In the spaces that have not been torn up, there are signs of water damage on the ceiling.

That damage is more apparent on the third floor. The old high school auditorium still has its stage, but adjacent rooms have holes and stains from water damage.

In between the second and third floors is one of the “newer” additions to the building – a window on the western end of the building that oversees West Main and Mechanic streets.

Jackson said the old window was ready to fall apart. He credited former Mayor Arthur Vigeant with securing enough funds to give the window and trim a much-needed replacement.

Whatever the “could bes,” the Walker would have to wait on other city projects.

“The city needs a new school and a fire station … they have higher priority,” said Dumais.

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