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Historic Faneuil Hall building closes for renovations

A $3.8 million project will see Faneuil Hall closed until the spring.
A $3.8 million project will see Faneuil Hall closed until the spring.(Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)

Tourists and history buffs have just one more day to get to historic Faneuil Hall before the 275-year-old building closes for renovations until the spring, according to the city of Boston.

The Faneuil Hall building, which was donated to the city in 1742 by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil, will close to the public at 6 p.m. on Sunday so that construction crews can begin $3.8 million worth of work, including upgrades to the building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, an improved fire alarm, and a new chair lift and elevator to improve accessibility.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, however, with its bustling mix of more than 100 restaurants and shops, where visitors weave past street performers against a backdrop of music and cheers, will not be closed.

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“We will be open for business, we do not plan on any disruptions at all,” said Joe O’Malley, the Marketplace’s general manager.

The Faneuil Hall building is the oldest of five at the same location — “the cradle of liberty,” said O’Malley. It was once home to merchants, fishermen, and meat and produce sellers, according to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace’s website. It was where Colonists first protested the Sugar Act in 1764 and established the doctrine of “no taxation without representation,” according to the site.

It has hosted speakers including George Washington, who toasted the nation there on its first birthday, as well as Samuel Adams, Oliver Wendall Holmes, and Susan B. Anthony, according to the site.

In 1826, Faneuil Hall was expanded to include Quincy Market, O’Malley said. By the mid-1900s, the buildings had fallen into disrepair, and the market was targeted for demolition, according to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace site. But in 1976, O’Malley said, the entire area was renovated, and it became what Bostonians know today as Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

The newer Faneuil Hall Marketplace buildings include Quincy Market, North Market, South Market, and the new Sephora building, which used to be a flower shop. All of those attractions will remain open through the renovations, said O’Malley. Some vendors inside Faneuil Hall will be affected, but the Marketplace will try to help them out, giving them storage space while the building is closed, O’Malley said.

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The last time Faneuil Hall underwent a major renovation was in 1990 and 1991, according to the city. At that time, almost all the building’s mechanical and electrical components were replaced and an elevator and handicapped lift were installed, according to the city. But now, many of those components are aged beyond their useful life, or do not meet building codes.

A guide led a tour of Faneuil Hall on Saturday.
A guide led a tour of Faneuil Hall on Saturday.(Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)

The renovation will include replacing the elevator and the lift, according to the city. The hot water heaters and heat exchanger will be replaced, along with the air conditioning ductwork at the first-floor ceiling, the chilled water piping, and circulating hot water piping. New humidifiers and steam piping will be installed in the attic, and the HVAC controls will be replaced with a complete electronic energy management system. The fire alarms will all be upgraded.

The renovation will also include some architectural work, including restoring the vestibule doors on the first floor.

The design contract with CSS Architects is valued at $386,730, and the construction contract, with J.F. White Contracting Co., is valued at $3,449,000, according to the city.

“We’re proud to be taking a proactive approach in replacing critical accessibility and building system components in Faneuil Hall to ensure that one of the most historically significant buildings in Boston remains in great condition for years to come,” said Tricia Lyons, director of public facilities for the city of Boston.

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Florian Bosc, a tourist from Quebec, took photographs inside Faneuil Hall.
Florian Bosc, a tourist from Quebec, took photographs inside Faneuil Hall. (Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)

The renovation will include replacing the elevator and the lift, according to the city. The hot water heaters and heat exchanger will be replaced, along with the air condition ductwork at the first-floor ceiling, the chilled water piping, and circulating hot water piping. New humidifiers and steam piping will be installed in the attic, and the HVAC controls will be replaced with a complete electronic energy management system. The fire alarms will all be upgraded.

The renovation will also include some architectural work, including restoring the vestibule doors at the first floor.

The design contract with CSS Architects is valued at $386,730, and the construction contract, with J.F. White Contracting Co. is valued at $3,449,000, according to the city.

“We’re proud to be taking a proactive approach in replacing critical accessibility and building system components in Faneuil Hall to ensure that one of the most historically significant buildings in Boston remains in great condition for years to come,” said Tricia Lyons, director of public facilities for the city of Boston.


Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.