by Steve Peterson
The price for saving Old City Hall will be approximately $800,000.
Volunteer labor will account for some of the cost. Grants are being written to cover as much as possible. But the remainder must come from charitable contributions., according to a Big Sioux River Valley Historical Society (BSRVHC) flier.
“Old City Hall has stood like a rock since 1918, on Hawarden’s Central Avenue, as the city grew from a frontier railhead to a vibrant prairie community. This grand old building was no passive observer, but rather an active participant and partner in the thousands of moments and events that make up our history.
“Old City Hall headquartered as a police station, the fire station and the city government offices. It was a movie theatre, a stage for live theatre performances and the place to be on Saturday night for the Little Oscar Dances. It hosted countless fundraising dinners, and served as a warm place on Christmas season Saturday nights as the Chamber of Commerce held prize drawings for electric blankets, radios and toys. Thousands of dollars in war bonds were sold here during World War II, and volunteer women gathered in the auditorium to stitch hundreds of warm quilts for the war effort. The children of Hawarden spent thousands of hours here roller skating, playing basketball and dancing. It has seen exercise classes, square dancing and countless other entertainment and recreation classes.
“And who does not remember and appreciate, the public restrooms available to all as we spent a busy Saturday night shopping, meeting and greeting on main street, Hawarden.
“Now Old City Hall stands empty and slowly deteriorating. City leaders have considered demolishing the building but have agreed to allow the Big Sioux River Valley Historical Society (BSRVHC) to launch an effort to renovate the building for community use. A grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources paid for environmental assessment of the facility and removal and sealing of asbestos in the building.
“BSRVHS then engaged FEH Architects of Sioux City to create a plan for renovation of Old City Hal, which has just been completed and is shown in architectural drawings displayed here (at the Hawarden Community Center during the Quasquicentennial). Intentions are to make the remodeled building a community multi-use facility. Portions will be used for collections and displays of historical artifacts. Public meeting rooms for community organizations will be available. The large auditorium space will be used, as it always has been, for public gatherings, fundraisers, community events and historical displays.
“BSRVHC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax deductible. If you want to be a part of this effort, you may send your check to BSRVHS, PO Box 68, Hawarden, IA, 51023.
If you have questions about the Old City Hall project, call Tim Kurth at 712-551-6263 or Dan Cain at 712-551-2979.