Corporation Hall - City Hall

Seat of Local Government


Corporation Hall

Corporation Hall

Corporation Hall, S. Burdick Street Kalamazoo Public Library Archives, uncataloged photo collection, oversizedKalamazoo Village officers first got a home of their own with the 1867 construction of Corporation Hall on the west side of S. Burdick Street between South Street and Michigan Avenue. Fire companies were located on the first floor, with additional municipal offices on the second floor.

Throughout the years, Corporation Hall also provided space for the first public library, the Ladies Library Association, and the Kalamazoo Board of Education. Although the fire and police departments moved elsewhere in the early 1900s, Corporation Hall was the seat of local government until 1924.

In 1925, the building was leased to the J.C. Penney department store, which stayed there until 1956. Since then, various businesses have occupied the building. The building has had several facades over the years, but part of the original brick can still be seen on the second story of the south side of the building.

City Hall

City Hall
Interior of Kalamazoo City Hall, c1931-39 Kalamazoo Public Library Photograph P-30

The present City Hall was dedicated by Mayor S. Rudolph Light on September 1, 1931. It was designed in the Art Deco style by Weary and Alford of Chicago, and was erected by Miller-Davis and equipped at a cost of $524,000.

It is a four-story reinforced concrete building decorated with granite and limestone. A floral motif, typical of the Art Deco style, can be found throughout the building, in such details as the flagpoles, light fixtures, and railings. A band of bas-relief carvings and text describing significant events in Kalamazoo’s past adorns the top of all four exterior walls. The featured events are: 1829 first settler, Titus Bronson, arrived; 1831 original plat filed; 1831 became the county seat; 1833 free school established; 1835 first newspaper published; 1836 name changed to Kalamazoo; 1838 Kalamazoo incorporated as a village; 1846 steam railway transportation established; 1858 free high school established; 1884 incorporated as a city; 1904 Western State Teachers College founded; 1918 commission-manager charter adopted; 1928 air mail service established.

A striking feature of the interior is the mural on the walls and ceiling of the city commission chambers, painted by local artist Otto Stauffenberg.

Written by Karen Santamaria, Kalamazoo Public Library Staff, 2002. Last updated 18 November 2021.

Sources

Books

Kalamazoo Lost and Found

Houghton, Lynn Smith and O’Connor, Pamela Hall
The Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, 2001, p.55, and 188
H 720.9774 H838


Documents

“Etching 1867 Corporation Hall and A Community’s Growth”
Wes Freeland, 2012. PDF


Local History Room Subject Files

Kalamazoo (Govt.) – City Hall

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