Happy Anniversary Davenport City Hall!

Last week we posted a selection of close-up images of a local building that is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its dedication this week. That building is Davenport City Hall.

From the opening of the eleven construction bids on December 27, 1894, Davenporters eagerly awaited their new City Hall. Some were disappointed when the Mayor and City Council elected to have the building built of Bermea (Ohio) sandstone instead of red stone. The Romanesque style building designed by local architect John W. Ross would soon win them over and many citizens stopped by the construction site to watch the new building take shape.

The Morrison Contracting and Manufacturing Company of Pueblo, Colorado won the bid to build the structure. By mid-march 1895, the company was fencing off the construction area as huge pieces of sandstone were shipped to the area. The bid required all pieces of stone to be cut and prepared on site; that meant the construction area had to be large enough to accommodate both the storing and cutting of the stone as well as the structure itself.

New Public Works truck outside City Hall c. 1950s.

By April 1895, foundation work had begun and the building began to take shape.

The contract deadline was for the Morrison Company to have the structure completed by December 1896. With good weather and no supply problems, the building was actually completed in April 1896.

The public dedication was held on April 14, 1896, with all citizens invited to attend the speeches and tour the new building. Quarter-sawn White Oak filled every inch of the building except the new prison cells. Furniture of the same wood had been custom-made locally by the W. H. Voss Manufacturing Company and the Ohmer Company of Dayton, Ohio.

Davenport Police Department Radio Room inside City Hall. Photo courtesy of the Davenport Police Historic Association.

Nearly every office area had large windows to let in sunlight. The latest gas and electric lighting fixtures were installed to illuminate building spaces on dark days and evenings. A modern toilet and bath room was located near the police department. Even an electric elevator was planned to help people reach the third floor City Council chamber (this was not added until 1950).

Third Floor Council Chamber c. 1940s. The electrical lights shown were once electric and gas when the building opened in 1896. The Council Chamber was moved to the first floor during the 1979 – 1980 renovations.

City Hall was built at a cost of $79,997.50. By the time of the dedication, $50,000 of the cost had already been paid in full.

Public Works employees c. 1946. The immense size of the windows is noted in this picture. Natural sunlight and fresh air were considered two benefits for employees when the building was originally built.

Davenport City Hall has adapted over the years to fit the needs of a growing city. In 1963, an addition was built on the north side of the building to add office space. A $2.6 million dollar renovation was done in 1979-1980 that completely changed and modernized the inside of the building.

Davenport Police officers standing outside the 4th Street Police Station entrance once located in Davenport City Hall. Photo c. 1920s courtesy of the Davenport Police Historic Association.

The police department is now located across Harrison Street from City Hall, while Public Works has moved farther north, off Brady Street.

C. 1920. Davenport City Hall being cleaned from the soot that had collected on the stone since it was built in 1895 – 1896.

It seems that after 125 years, Davenport City Hall is still going strong. Happy Anniversary City Hall!

(posted by Amy D.)


  • Daily Leader, December 27, 1894. Pg. 4
  • The Morning Democrat, January 18, 1895. Pg. 4
  • The Morning Democrat, April 15, 1896. Pg. 2

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