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City Hall
City Hall
TitleCity Hall
DescriptionPostcard of City Hall building at the City Market
Historical ArticleKansas City was still very much a river town and the business center was at the Junction, 9th and Main, when the imposing brick city hall pictured was built at 4th and Main, a few blocks south of the Missouri River, in 1892.

The voters approved a bond issue of $300,000 in 1889 to erect a city hall. Joseph J. Davenport was mayor at the time.

A city square bounded by 4th and 5th and Market Street (now Grand Avenue) had been given to the city to be used forever for public purposes. It became the city hall site.

The site was originally the slope of a ravine and its surface 55 feet below the present 5th Street, gradually sloping up to 4th where it was 15 feet below the present surface. The deep hollow had been filled through the years by dumping earth and rubbish into it.

G. B. Gunn was then city engineer, S. E. Chamberlain was superintendent of buildings and Louis Curtiss his assistant. They were architects and they designed a foundation for the city hall that it was said at the time never had been used before. It was a system of steel caissons filled with vitrified brick and cement that would rest on bedrock. This plan was submitted to A. Van Brunt, an expert architect, and he approved it.

William W. Taylor, contractor, used vitrified brick made at the Soldiers Home in Leavenworth, Kan. George Duggan was given the contract for building the city hall above the foundations for a price of $203, 694. He sublet the exterior brick work to W. W. Taylor, and Taylor and other members of this English family laid the brick.

For 45 years the sturdy building served as the seat of municipal government. Serving as mayors in the old building were William S. Cowherd, Webster Davis, James M. Jones, James A. Reed, Jay H. Neff, Henry M. Beardsley, T. T. Crittenden Jr., Darius A. Brown, Henry L. Jost, George H. Edwards, James Cowgill, Samuel B. Strother, Frank H. Cromwell, Albert L. Beach and Bryce B. Smith.

The last official business in the old city hall was transacted at 4:30 in the afternoon of Oct. 24, 1937, by a water consumer paying his bill. Next day Mayor Bryce B. Smith and City Manager H. F. McElroy moved to quarters on the 29th floor of the new city hall at 12th and Oak.

The old building was razed in 1938 to make way for the new city market. Nothing remained of the old hall except the 60 concrete piers upon which the building stood, and they were hidden from sight beneath the surface.

The post card, mailed from Kansas City in 1908 and marked Private Post Card, was published in black and white by W. G. Macfarland, Buffalo & Toronto. Over the River Charley mailed the card to W. H. McKane, 509 Chestnut, Leavenworth, Kan.

Kansas City Times
November 16, 1979

AuthorRay, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)
Item TypePostcard
CollectionMrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981
Local SubjectBuildings
City Market
City Hall (5th and Main)
Digital FormatJPEG
RepositoryMissouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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