Located at 101 West Main Street since 1993, the current City Hall building features a Classic Revival architectural design. Notice the three types of buildings in this picture. The two three-story Italianate buildings on the right are also part of the City Hall complex. But, how did it come to be this way? Read on for more information!
Originally, this building housed the Indiana Bank, which later became the First National Bank. Established in 1853, seven years before the Civil War, this three-story building was the bank - one of many commercial and residential buildings lining Main Street. Madison's prosperity was on full display anywhere one looked during this period. Ten years later, under the guidance of bank president E. G. Whitney, it received a state charter from the United States Treasury and became the First National Bank of Madison.
However, in 1926, the original building was torn down and a new limestone building replaced it. By 1948, post World War II prosperity hit American cities and Madison was no exception. Do you remember that there was another three story building next to the bank? That building was acquired, demolished, and another limestone building erected in its place. This new building served as the location for the Jefferson County Insurance Agency until May 1963 when bank president Gene Stunkel announced the bank was to undergo major renovations and remodeling. This new design would remove the false ceiling to reveal the original twenty-five foot ceilings the 1926 structure boasted. They also planned to eliminate the interior walls between the two buildings to combine the Jefferson County Insurance Agency with all other departments at the bank. This next picture shows the artist's rendering of the new proposed building:
New windows and a combined main entrance were added, which is how the building remains today. Below are some more interesting photos of the interior and of Mr. Stunkel - check them out!
Bank president Mr. Stunkel (center) along with William E. Jenner, Dr. John Horner, Dr. H. Schirmer Riley, and C.B. "Birch" Johnson.
This is the bank teller's area. Notice the resemblance to today's City Council chamber (below)?
(Close-up of upper level windows in Council Chambers)
And that's not the only similarity between the historic interior and today's modern one. Check out these photos of the "Customer Lounge Area" which is today's "Citizen's Lounge Area."
But, how did all three buildings come to be City Hall? Keep reading...
In 1972, the two historic buildings to the right of the bank were acquired to accommodate more offices and meeting rooms. After many decades as a bank, the City of Madison purchased the building in 1990. Today, the building houses most of the City's departmental offices and the City Council Chamber. Be sure to come inside to check out the historic windows and features!
City Hall today houses the Office of Planning, Preservation, and Design, which serves as one of the administrators, in addition to the Historic District Board of Review, of one of the nation's largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States.
And, here's a sneak peak upstairs... renovations should begin soon to add more office and meeting space!
Thank you to local historian Betsy Lyman and the Madison Main Street Program for their significant contribution to the materials in this post.