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City Hall
City Hall
TitleCity Hall
DescriptionPostcard of Kansas City's first City Hall (later police headquarters) at 4th and Main Streets
Historical ArticleKansas City's first city hall (later police headquarters) was located on the northwest corner of the city squair at 4th and Main. It was begun in 1857 when M.J. Payne was mayor and finished the next year in his second term.

J.W. Armonds was the contractor and the structure cost $3,500. Built of brick, it was looked upon as a model city hall and the people were proud of it.

Originally it was a combined city market and city hall. Because the ground was over an old ravine and was wet and unstable, it was built upon piling, which made it appear to be on stilts, but the piling was later cased with bricks, giving it a better appearance.

The second floor was used as a hall for all sorts of public meetings, dances and socials. At that time only the Catholics and Methodists had church buildings in the city, so other denominations held their Sunday meetings in the town hall.

When the hall was built, the City of Kansas was already a trading center through which $5 million worth of merchandise in the Santa Fe trade passed each year, and business leaders got the state legislature to establish a court of common pleas, with jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases in Kaw township.

The upstairs of the city hall was then given to this court and the market house downstairs was made into offices for the first city marshall, John F. Hayden, and the clerk of the new courts by bricking between the arches of the market.

For a time after the court of common pleas was created, there was no room for the mayor and city council to meet so they went to a building across the street from the city hall. This continued until the legislature established the circuit courts here, which abolished the court of common pleas, and a new county courthouse was built. Municipal court was then held on the first floor and the hall upstairs again became a place for charity balls and other entertainments.

In 1889, when the city charter went into effect under which the name of the municipality was changed from City of Kansas to Kansas City, the city was empowered to issue bonds for public improvements. By a large majority the people voted for a bond issue of $300,000 to build a new city hall at the same location. It was completed in 1892, an imposing six-story red brick structure.

The old hall, as pictured, was not torn down, but was then used exclusively as a police station. The scene on the post card shows members of the police force in their blue uniforms and London bobby-type helmets. A paddy wagon drawn by a white horse stands nearby, ready to pick up the drunk and disorderly. The building was used as police headquarters until 1938, when the department moved to the present headquarters at 1125 Locust.

Kansas City Times
August 28, 1981
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 Hall (5th and Main)
Police Department Headquarters
Digital FormatJPEG
RepositoryMissouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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