Saturday, July 25, 2015

Back to the future at City Hall

There have been some changes in staff quarters at Chariton's wonderful 1931 Art Deco City Hall that I think are pretty cool, although admittedly I have not polled staff members to see if they're fully on board yet.

The net effect has been to return the near-mint lobby of the William Lee Perkins-designed building to its function as the heart of the structure after many years of serving as a pass-through space, barely glanced at. Now, when residents and guests pass through the front doors --- they have arrived.

I'm a big fan of the lobby, although 21st century eyes accustomed to featureless office spaces may find its design and decor mildly disconcerting.

Walls are fully tiled --- I'd call the color golden rod. And the floors are terrazzo. The metal-railed staircase to the second floor climbs against the south wall and tucked into it, inset into tile and kind of hiding in plain sight beside its replacement, is this ceramic confection that was the building's original water fountain.

The lobby ceiling fixture is original.

And the arched door in the west wall leads into a hallway providing access to restrooms on the left and City Clerk and Treasurer Ruth Ryun's office on the right. That doorway originally led into City Council chambers, long since relocated.

The city's office support staff now occupies the original city clerk's office.

Here's Avis at her desk behind the service window in the angled tile wall separating the original clerk's office from the lobby. The opening is original, but sliding glass panels have replaced metal grill work, long since vanished.

The Housing Authority office currently is located in the office in the northeast corner of the building, built in 1931 as the mayor's office, but that office is expected to move elsewhere in the building soon.

The original great reallocation of space at City Hall occured during the 1970s, when the fire station wing was added to the building. Prior to that, the original fire station garage occupied half of the building's ground floor. 

After the new wing was built, the doors were infilled in a manner compatible with the rest of the building and offices and new city council chambers constructed behind them. The offices of the city manager, parks and recreation director and building inspector, in addition to council chambers, are located there now.


Anonymous said...

Great write-up and explanation of where we have been and where we are now. Frank, you have a wonderful perspective on our city roots.
Denny B

Anonymous said...

Any idea what happened to the large vase shown on the top of the building in the older photograph ?? You do have a great eye for photographing people, places and plants which are a pleasure to view.

Frank D. Myers said...

Although it looked like a vase it actually was a lantern --- and no one's quite sure when it vanished. It's sort of like the Civil War cannons on the courthouse lawn --- no one remembers where they went either!