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Construction of City Hall

The Athens-Clarke County City Hall was built by L.F. Goodrich of Augusta, architect, and J.W. Barnett, contractor. Prior to the construction of City Hall, there existed a small meeting hall / town hall in the middle of Market Street, now Washington Street, built with funds appropriated in 1845. It was built to provide a market on the ground floor where meat was sold. The building also housed the calaboose (jail), and the hall itself was used not only for political meetings, but for theatrical performances by native talent and traveling barnstormers.

Architectural Details

City Hall was constructed on solid Lexington granite on the first floor and light buff brick with oolitic limestone trimmings on the upper floors. It is 103 feet on the front, 85 feet deep, and rises to a height of 99 feet. The building was originally constructed with 27 large rooms and a number of storage rooms. The building housed an auditorium, which would accommodate 300 people, an armory for the local military company, offices for city officials, and an office for the chamber of commerce. 

Three entrances to the building are fronted by square porches at the height of the main floor. These entrances are approached by flights of stone steps, have heavy abutments at the sides, and are surmounted by balustrades which are repeated at the roof line. All of the roof-line balustrades are fabricated from tin to match the limestone balustrades on the main floor.

The clock tower is constructed of wood topped by a copper cupola, or dome. Perched atop the four-faced clock and the dome is an eagle with an eight-foot wing span. The eagle was originally intended to act as a weather vane, but it moves slowly because of its weight. 

Of particular interest are the clock and bell connected to it that rings on the hour. This bell was once connected to the Fire Department’s alarm system, but it rang so loud and clear that all of Clarke County would come to a fire, hindering the work of the firemen. It was disconnected from the signal alarm, and the clangor was dulled. The clock was handmade and operated with counterweights like an old grandfather clock until it was electrified in 1943. Before this change, the janitor had to climb five flights of steps once a week to wind the clock.

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