Throwback Thursday – Cool Stories from City Hall

The city of Bowling Green was established over 220 years ago. Its City Hall was originally in the McCormack Building, where we visited a couple years ago for Throwback Thursday. City Hall moved to its current home on 10th and College streets in 1908, and was designed by one of the most famous Kentucky architects of the time, Brinton B. Davis.

Mayor George T. Wilson commissioned the City Hall build, with a winning construction bid from C.H. Smith for $29 thousand dollars. A few modifications were made though, and the final cost came in at just over $25 thousand dollars. 

Brinton B. Davis’ architect office was out of Louisville. He was known as the “Hill Builder” because he designed WKU’s main campus master plan in 1909 and had a relationship with the university thru 1939. Buildings like Van Meter Hall, the gymnasium and library, and Cherry Hall were all part of his designs. 

The City Hall building has seen many changes over the past century. While home of the mayor and city clerk’s offices, the hall originally held jail cells, the city library, police court, city engineer and city attorney’s offices. A spiral staircase to the jail cells once connected our modern city manager’s office and human resources desks. Even the health department lived in these halls until the 1950s.

Renovations at City Hall have been an ever-changing process. In 1962, the jail cells were opened up into more offices. Between 1986 and 87, the hall ditched green shag carpeting and brown wood paneling when everything got an upgrade and new handicap accesses were built. The lower level got a facelift in 1998 and 99, when human resources moved into what was once the police department vault.

According to the city’s website, there’s a few fun facts about the hall, too. In 1960, a campaigning John F. Kennedy gave a presidential rally speech from its front steps. The city bought its first computer in the 1970s, and it was so big that a window had to be removed just to fit it inside the building. A time capsule was buried directly in front of the City Hall sign in 2008, not to be recovered and opened until City Hall’s bicentennial in 2108.