(For photos of what the building looked like before the $32 million restoration and upgrade, see my 2006 blog post. For photos during restoration, see my July 2010 blog post. And if you really have a lot of time to kill, you can click on my City Hall blog label to read all the posts I wrote during the long fight to save this building, and Bryan Baker's blog in November and December 2006 for his efforts during the 2006 struggle.)
Saturday was the re-dedication ceremony and official re-opening of the Municipal Building on Grand Street. Pretty much all the city's political officials attended, including former Mayors Bergin, Santopietro and Caligiuri.
It seemed strange to me for some of the former Mayors, especially Bergin and Santopietro, to be honored at the re-dedication, since it was under their watch that the building was allowed to fall apart. Granted, one cause of the decay was the lack of a proper maintenance plan, which goes back before Bergin. But the building should never have been neglected for so long. I guess it's a symptom of the larger problems. The city suffers from decades of infrastructure neglect, from years of poor management. We're finally moving in the right direction, but I can't help worrying that the building will fall apart again. Waterbury Development Corporation, which did such a magnificent job revitalizing the building, has prepared extensive manuals with instructions on the correct maintenance procedures for the building, but there is no guarantee that future administrations will adhere to the guidelines.
Okay, enough doom and gloom for today. On to the celebration of what has been accomplished!
I missed part of the opening ceremonies, but arrived in time for the flag raising and national anthem.
The ceremony was accompanied by the Fulton American Band.
The crowd filled the entourage (Cass Gilbert's name for the piazza in front of the building), which was created for public gatherings.
The beautiful, painted copper-clad and gilt cupola.
The patriotic and Classical eagles on top of the pilasters on the building's facade.
More of the crowd, listening to the speeches, which included one by Cass Gilbert's great-granddaughter. My favorite part of her speech was her family's motto: "If you're not going to do it right, don't bother."
A few people wandered across the street during the speeches, waiting for their chance to go inside and see the gorgeous building.
Waterbury's visual icon of patriotism, Ziggy, arrived toward the end of the speeches.
It took at least ten minutes for everyone to get through the entrance.
Complimentary cookies, hot cocoa and sandwiches were served by Café B-Muse (open weekdays for lunch at the Mattatuck Museum). The first and second floors were pack with people. It's probably the one time when there will be a line of people eagerly and joyfully waiting to enter the Tax Collectors office.
A few people resting on the railing overlooking the grand staircase.
The Veteran's Memorial Chamber. There is a supply of folding chairs and tables that get set up in this room as needed for various meetings.
The clock and stencils over the entrance to the Veteran's Memorial Chamber.
Mayor Jarjura outside the entrance to the Mayoral suite of offices.
Happy people in the Aldermanic Chamber. Larry Depillo (seen posing with outspoken activist Lisa Lessard) fought the restoration of the building tooth and nail every step of the way. I hope he now puts his energy into ensuring that the building will be properly maintained going forward.
The Chase Building across the street, seen from the original Mayor's Office. It's next in line for a maintenance overhaul, but so far Mayor Jarjura has said its restoration needs to wait indefinitely.
The architecture is so graceful, with so many places that lend themselves to beautiful compositions.
Tom Chute was present, broadcasting the event on WATR 1320.
The entourage without the crowd. The fountain is now, after decades, in working order, but is turned off for the winter.
There is one more celebratory event scheduled, a gala on January 8. You can register for the gala on the special City Hall website, or by calling the Mattatuck Museum (203-753-0381).