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La Crosse County Historical Society discovers, collects, preserves, and shares the history of La Crosse County, Wisconsin.

Archive Record

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Object Name Print
Catalog Number 2015.fic.364f
Description City Hall
Collection La Crosse County Historical Society Collection
Title City Hall
People Nudd, Chris
Search Terms City Hall
Notes Part of a series of 15 prints by Chris Nudd "La Crosse Scenes".

Text with print:

"The dedication of the present city hall at Fifth and State Streets was no officially held until Feb. 10, 1892, the 50th anniversary of the founding of La Crosse, but the cornerstone was laid in 1891.

The laying of the cornerstone on July 4, 1891, was also the day the old wagon bridge at the foot of Mt. Vernon Street was dedicated and combined with these two official acts was one of the greatest celebrations the City of La Crosse ever staged.

Nearly 15,000 persons entered the city by train, horse and wagon and buggy to witness a parade 30 blocks long, with almost every business house of note represented by floats. Gov. George W. Peck and other state and national luminaries were present.

The cornerstone, in the southeast corner of the building at the base of the ground floor, is made of St. Cloud marble and weighs several tons.

On the State street side the words "City Hall" are inscribed, and on the 6th Street side is the date July 4, 1891.

There are many interesting items stored in the steel box that the then mayor, F.A. Copeland, placed in the stone. Among these are copies of the city charter and other city documents, a list of all county officials and county board members, two maps of the city, annual reports of the La Crosse Board of Trade from 1879 to 1890, the history of the Normana Sangerkor, the history of the Norwegian Workingmen's Society, a statement of the Norden Society, list of officers and trustees of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of North La Crosse and names of the pastor and officers of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of the South Side, the constitution of the YMCA and list of members, officers of Masonic bodies of La Crosse, and a roster of the Wilson Colwell post of the GAR.

Other items include: report of the deputy U.S. collector for June, 1891; a program of the commencement exercises of the La Crosse High School on June 29, 1891; a sketch of La Crosse in 1854; the signal service report for July 3, 1891; a set of proof coins, including $1 as well as 50, 25, 10, 5, and one-cent pieces, contributed by F.P. Bardist, city engineer; a Powell medal contributed by Frank M. Congdon; a copy of the July 4 program; and a number of business cards.

Probably unnoticed by thousands of La Crosse citizens and perplexing to those who have seen them, the letters set into the brick wall to the east and above the State Street entrance of the City Hall are Roman numerals denoting the year of the construction, 1891. The letter "M" indicates 1,000, the letter "D" 500, the three "c's" total 300, bringing the figures up to 1,800. The "x" before the "c" indicates 90, and, of course, "I"is one. Thus you have 1891.

Land for the city hall was purchased in 1889 and 1891, the Council adopting a resolution to erect the new building January 14, 1891. Plans were adopted Feb. 6, 1891, and a contract let March 17, 1891. Ground was broken April 1, and the first footing stone was laid July 4. The building was completed Jan. 12, 1892, being occupied on Jan. 20.

The cost included: ground, $12,000; building, $40,000; plans and superintendence, $2181.13; a total of $54,181.13. Stoltze and Schick were the architects, and Joseph Schwalbe and Son were the builders.

Aldermen Holley, Murray, Emberson, Grams, and Rice made up the building committee. Not only had the structure been erected for the sum appropriated, but with what remained of the fund from the sale of the old city hall, an additional strip of ground was purchased.

In the Spring of 1959 the southeast tower of the city hall was removed to just below the top row of windows and the roof was reconstructed."