Old Federal Building/City Hall
Description: This photo shows Sioux City’s old federal building, which is today City Hall. People familiar with this building will notice one dramatic difference from the City Hall they are used to: there’s no clock. This photo was taken in 1896, when construction on the building was nearly complete. In its time it was the tallest structure in the city, with the tower reaching over 100 feet. It was designed by two prominent architects of the 19th century, Willoughby Edbrooke and William Aiken, and their original designs included a tower, but no clock. The clock and its bell was purchased by Congressman George Perkins through a grant, and they were added to the building in 1900. The building served as the site for the federal offices in the city until 1933, when the new federal building across the street was constructed. This building was actually scheduled to be torn down and replaced, but World War II delayed the demolition. After the war the city faced protest from many citizens who did not want the building torn down, as it had become a landmark of downtown Sioux City. Plans were switched to remodel the building instead to make a new city hall, after the old one had been damaged by fire in 1944. Some basic structural modifications were all that was required and the new City Hall officially opened in 1948.
The building remained City Hall until 1990s, when the structure was beginning to wear down. City Hall was moved temporarily to the Orpheum Building, as this building was deemed unsafe. Still unwilling to tear the iconic building down completely, the city decided to only rebuild part of the building, leaving the clock tower and the two connecting walls. The building was meticulously rebuilt, restored, and remodeled to look very much like it had before, and using many of the same rough-cut limestone blocks. The major changes added to the renovation were lowering of the foundation to street level, adding another story, and expanding the building to cover the whole quarter block. Today City Hall stands proudly as a restored version of the old Richardsonian Romanesque building that originally stood there. The bell was removed during the renovation and moved to the Sioux City Field Services building on 13th Street. Though the clock no longer chimes, it remains as one of only four clocks of its kind in the country.
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*For more information on City Hall, see siouxcityhistory.org*