Thursday, November 16, 2006

Waterbury City Hall

Waterbury's City Hall building is one of our great treasures. It was designed by Cass Gilbert (architect of NYC's Woolworth Building and the U.S. Supreme Court building) and built in 1914. Along with the four other Cass Gilbert buildings surrounding it, City Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, however, is now yet another victim of our unpleasant recent past. Maintenance of the building was neglected for a long time, and it was further damaged by flooding from a sabotaged water pipe.

The ceiling of the front lobby. This looks like it mostly needs some fresh paint.

A proposal to appropriate and issue bonds for $48 million, to be used for the renovation of the building and the construction of a new firehouse on East Main Street, was rejected by voters on election day. I can certainly understand why some voters are afraid that the funds will be misappropriated, since that sort of thing happened frequently when Giordano was mayor. However, Giordano is long gone, and current-mayor Jarjura has not done anything to suggest he would misappropriate funds.

The ceiling of the stairwell... more fresh paint needed.

When the Palace Theater was still in worse shape than City Hall is now, there were plenty of people in Waterbury who didn't want to see it restored. They said it would cost too much, that it wasn't worth the effort, that the money would just get stolen by crooked developers, that we would be better off tearing it down (this idea makes me angry--we have these fabulous, beautiful, historic buildings; replacing them with something of equal quality would cost more than renovation; replacing them with something cheaper would be a tragedy).

A view up the main stairwell of Waterbury's city hall. How could anyone in their right mind suggest tearing this down???

All the same arguments against restoring the Palace are now being put forth against renovating City Hall. The Palace Theater was successfully renovated and is something we are all proud of. We should do the same for City Hall.

The bottom of a flag pole in front of City Hall.

The clock tower--it looks like the columns need to be scraped and repainted, and the dome might need some fresh gilding.

The window in the main stairwell. Again, how could anyone suggest destroying this? I'm very relieved that Jarjura has flatly stated that tearing it down is not going to happen. It would be such a nightmare if that were to happen! Waterbury would once again be ridiculed by the entire nation, and there would probably be a prolonged legal battle to prevent it from being destroyed.

The mayor will be meeting with the Board of Aldermen and the state oversight board on Tuesday next week to discuss options for saving city hall. At the very least, they need to bring it up to code so that it can be reoccupied. Renting office space is predicted to run as high as $800,000 a year. I don't like proposals to go ahead with the bonding even though it was voted down. Overriding the election results sets a bad precedent. If bonding really is the only way to go forward, then Jarjura should put some of his considerable funds into a campaign to save city hall and hold another referendum.

UPDATE 1/2/2011: Here are a few more shots I took the same day as the preceding images. For whatever reason, I didn't include them at the time.

Here's hoping we never see those vending machines return to the hallways!

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