HALLOWELL — The first reading of Hallowell’s copy of the Declaration of Independence went off without a hitch.

Mayor Mark Walker did the honors at Friday’s ceremony to open the public viewing of the city’s original 1776 printed version of the Declaration.

More than 80 people listened quietly as Walker, sporting a tricorn hat and a dark vest over a white shirt, read aloud a copy of the document. He drew a rousing round of applause at the end.

Another round of applause followed Dave Morris’ a capella rendition of “God Bless America.” Morris, who graduated in June from Hall-Dale High School, received a scholarship from the Ian Parker Foundation and will be attending Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, according to Sandy Stubbs, president of the Hallowell Citizens Initiative Committee, which organized the event.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, the whole event will be reprised, this time with Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, herself a former mayor, reading the document aloud.

The public is invited to view the document from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Hallowell City Hall, where two police officers were standing guard Friday morning. A series of velvet ropes cordons off the display area.

The public exposition is sponsored by the Hallowell Citizens Initiative Committee, a group that formed about a year ago. The group says it aims to restore and preserve the 1899 fire hose tower and the Hallowell fire station’s wooden section and to foster the appreciation of local history.

Since its founding, the committee has raised about $36,000, Stubbs said.

At Friday’s opening, the valuable document was displayed under a protective museum-type glass cabinet in front of the stage. It was printed by Ezekiel Russell in Salem, Mass., and hung for years in the Hubbard Free Library building.

Sumner Webber Sr., Hallowell’s city historian, said when he first looked at it in 1976, the estimated value was less than $20,000. “Since then, they’re so rare it’s gone out of sight,” he said, adding, “You can’t sell it anyway, because it’s a municipal document.” Webber prepared a display of the timeline of the document itself.

Also on Friday morning, volunteers from Hall-Dale Middle School greeted visitors at front and side entrances to City Hall.

Rex Holland, 14, wore a tricorn hat he said he had obtained on Patriots Day in Lexington, Massachusetts. He and Anthony Romano, who will be in the high school in the fall, were waiting to take their turns at the doorways.

“I’m doing it to put it on my resume so I can get a summer job,” Holland said. Romano said it was a good way to get volunteer hours.

Those who miss the Saturday morning reading can visit Augusta’s Old Fort Western at 5:30 p.m., where Mayor David Rollins will read the Declaration of Independence aloud as part of that city’s Fourth of July celebration.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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