ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


City Hall

110 N First





PRIOR TO 1884, City Hall was at 101 E. Main

A giraffe in front of a building

Description automatically generated with medium confidence






                       City Hall, Weltburger, 06 07 1890, drawing


___________________________  EARLY WEATHER FORECASTING  ___________________________

1891:   Watertown considered for Weather and Crop Service Station

A picture containing logo

Description automatically generated


04 22 1891 <> Frank Eaton, secretary of the Farmers club, and some others, have interested themselves in having Watertown made a weather and crop service station, under the auspices of the Commercial and Agricultural interests of Wisconsin.  The project, it is expected, will be matured this week, and flag displays be seen from the city hall building.  Daily weather maps will be received and posted in conspicuous places for the benefit of the public.  Self-registering thermometers will be used for making observations of temperatures, rain falls, etc.  Great benefits to the farmers about here are expected from the establishing of this station, and it hoped that general interest will be manifested in its maintenance and success.      WR


04 24 1891 <> Through the efforts of Frank Eaton on about May 1st next a signal service station will be in full running order here.  The flags will be displayed from the city hall towers, which will indicate the weather 24 hours in advance.  The rain gauge and self-registering thermometer will be placed at some convenient place in the city, so that all may get the benefit of them.


05 15 1891 <> The signal service thermometers and rain gauge for this station have arrived and are now in position on the building of Jos. Salick & Son.  The weather flags will be here in a few days, and will float from the flag staff of the city hall.


05 22 1891 <> Last Friday afternoon the weather signals of the government weather signal station were floated for the first time from the city hall flag staff, the first signal indicating frost that night.  As it was quite warm at the time and threatening rain, many laughed at the idea of there going to be a frost, and alluded to the signal service as a fraud, but on toward evening the weather turned cold, and during the night a very severe frost set in.  Thus far the weather predictions have been a success...     WG


05 22 1891 <> [same date and paper] Attention farmers.  Make hay while the sun shines.  Daily 8 a.m. weather forecasts from Washington-D.C., standard time from Washburn Observatory and weekly crop reports received at the Music and Jewelry store of Joseph Salick & Son, Watertown, Wis.      WG


06 03 1891 <> The weather signals are now displayed from the Salick building instead of the city hall.






The improvements along the river banks continue.  The city has begun to erect a wall of masonry in the rear of the city hall and a like work is being done on the Wegemann property near Cady Street bridge.  These walls are placed in the river as far as advisable, thus gaining considerable ground for the lot owners.     WR




           Room to Re Fitted up in City Hall on North First St.


Action was taken at last night’s meeting of the common council which will no doubt definitely settle the question of a public morgue.  Resolved, That a room be fitted up in the southwest corner of the city hall basement, according to specifications hereto attached, at a cost not to exceed $65, and that the contract for the same be let by the committee herein provided for at not to exceed said figure;







The council chamber last night was handsomely decorated for the reception of the new city administration.  The stars and stripes and a profuse display of bunting hung from the walls and ceiling, and ferns, potted plants and beautiful flowers were admirably placed so as to enhance the beauty of the occasion.  Janitor Krueger displayed admirable taste in the decorator’s art, and was the recipient of much well deserved commendations.  The aldermen made a decidedly good impression, and each wore a pretty button-hole bouquet, which was in perfect harmony with their surroundings.   WR


04 19       1899 FLORAL CARNIVAL, OR A 4TH OF JULY PARADE, c.1899














The council chamber in the city hall last Tuesday evening was elaborately decorated in honor of the first meeting of the new city council.  Flags, bunting, potted plants and ferns composed the decorations, and each councilman, the mayor and other city officials wore carnations in their buttonholes.  The mayor’s message was an interesting feature of the meeting, and in it he makes excellent recommendations that should be carried out . . . . The informal ballot for city clerk gave Henry Bieber 7 votes, Eugene Killian 5, E. Goeldner 1 and Bums 1.  The formal ballot gave Bieber 11, Killian 2, Mulberger 1; Arthur Mulberger received 12 votes for city attorney on the informal ballot, Buchheit 1 and Kading 1.  The ballot was made formal.  The city engineer, chief of police and street commissioner were elected unanimously, on motion, the clerk casting the ballot.



07 10       Emil Sette was awarded the contract for laying linoleum on the 3d floor of the City Hall, the price being $201    WG


11 13       Justices of the Peace allowed to occupy the third floor of city hall for the purpose of holding court, conducting examination and trials    WG



04 22       Emil Luther, Janitor City Hall




        Now So Inviting That Cops Fear A Rush


It has been completely renovated.  The walls have been painted a light cream and tan and the cells are shining with a new coat of black.  The berths have been given an overhauling and new lights have been installed.  The place now has everything but lace curtains. . . .




Watertown's city hall will be closed from top to bottom all day tomorrow and warning signs will be placed at all entrances to keep the public out or risk death.


The reason for this step is that the drive to exterminate bedbugs which have made their entrance via the jail through the admission of transients who sleep there is to be launched as authorized by the city council.  The deadly fumes which will fill the lower quarters of the building will prevent anyone from entering unless they wish to risk certain death.


The fire department and the police department will move headquarters to the Krueger garage next to the city hall.  A special telephone wire was run in there today to handle all calls in both departments tomorrow.  Fire trucks will be kept out of doors while the department headquarters are closed.


The North Western Laboratories of Lake Mills is in charge of the extermination of the vermin for which the city council appropriated $150.  The lower portions of the city hall are also to be repainted after the extermination is completed.


The city jail quarters were cleaned up some time ago, but some of the vermin got into the sleeping quarters occupied by the firemen and since then it has become necessary to give the entire first floor of the building a thorough cleanup.  The deadly fumes will penetrate the upper portions of the building and for that reason it will be necessary to close the entire building while the work is under way.



          Deadly Gas Fills City Hall While Crowds Look on


The police and fire department moved into their headquarters at the city hall last night after occupying temporary quarters in the Krueger livery yesterday while the North Western Laboratories of Lake Mills filled the city hall with poison gas to exterminate vermin originated in the jail sleeping quarters used by transients.


A temporary hookup with the fire alarm system and telephones in both departments made it possible to handle calls at the livery.  Fire department equipment was moved into the nearby streets for the day.


The sight attracted crowds during the day.  Signs warning the public against the poison gas were posted at the entrances.  The gas was set off about 7 o'clock in the morning, and the building was again thrown open around 6 p. m.


Firemen Saturday night took a number of pigeons from the tower to save them from death.  One pigeon which flew into the tower Sunday was overcome and toppled to the ground but was revived.  A hornets' nest located above one of the doors on the exterior of the building had all of its inmates destroyed by the gas, the hornets falling dead on the sidewalk.


The fire department received no calls at its temporary headquarters yesterday.  The police department made one arrest, an out-of-town man being taken in custody on a charge of drunkenness.  He was fined one dollar and costs.



07 11       Veterans honor roll; location proposed in City Hall    WDT



Oct                   1953 Fire Prevention Week



09 07       The City Council expects shortly to take up the question of what can be done to relieve congestion at the City Hall which has long been cramped for quarters.  The building was erected in 1884 and some departments, which have grown vastly in work and scope are still occupying their original quarters with no place in which to expand.  One such is the Police Department.  Over the years there has frequently been discussion on the subject of a new City Hall or some program whereby present departments can expand into space they need to operate efficiently.  Several times it was suggested that a new jail and fire station be built and that those quarters be utilized for needed office space for other departments.  But these discussions were never put into action and as a result nothing was done to relieve the situation.    WDT


10 12       Data on basic requirements for better facilities at the City Hall has been turned over to the architectural firm of Durant and Bergquist, now making a survey to determine what are the best methods to relieve the growing congestion and inadequacy of the present City Hall quarters.  City Manager C. C. Congdon has met with a representative of the architects and has given him information regarding present space occupied by the various departments and the needs for greater efficiency and expanding use of the building.   WDT


12 13       Several alternate proposals for solving the present City Hall space problem to provide better and much needed facilities for city departments are due to be included in a report which the architectural firm of Durrant and Bergquist is preparing.  One proposal would call for a new City Hall, designed to cover a long range building project.  Another would propose changes in the present building and provide whatever outside space is needed to better house present departments, either by moving such departments into other office space in the city or start construction of a first unit for a future new City Hall.   WDT






01 16       Old Armory Building, now the Recreation Building, proposed new City Hall site   WDT


09 15       Carlton Hotel offered to the city of Watertown as a site for a future City Hall or municipal building   WDT



The special committee recently appointed to inspect the safety conditions of the City Hall, with special emphasis on the Fire Department's quarters in the building, has completed its work and has prepared a report which will be sent to the City Council for consideration at its next meeting, Oct. 7, Arthur Kuenzi, chairman of the committee, reported today. Serving with Mr. Kuenzi on the committee are O. E. Carlson and Albert W. Maas, Sr.   WDT







      City Plan Commission Ignored


The proposal for the construction of a new fire station on the grounds of the recreation building ran into a new snag last night.


The city council, at its regular meeting, voted down, 4 to 3, a resolution to engage architects to prepare plans for a new fire station and police department quarters.  Some councilmen wanted to proceed only with a fire station at this time.


The final vote was:

Yes: Shephard, Moser and Kehl.

No: Franz, McFarland, Shaefer and Hinterberg.


The issue, as a result of last night's vote, is not dead and has been placed on the next committee agenda at which time the councilmen hope to clarify their views and bring in a new resolution.


During last night's debate on the issue, Councilman Floyd Shaefer suggested that councilmen give consideration to the City Plan Commission.  He said the commissioners are too often ignored and that it is an insult to competent men who spend hours on a matter to have their views shunted aside without giving them proper consideration.  The commission has opposed the recreation building site.


Council President Edward Hinterberg said he wanted more time to study different phases of the fire station plan, such as location, etc., and that he was not ready to vote on the matter, even to the extent of engaging an architect.


Councilman Fred W. Kehl said he believes the time has come for a definite decision for a new police station, since any money spent on improving the present quarters to meet the objections of state agencies which have condemned the present jail, would be a waste of the taxpayers' money. 


He said he feels that the police are more in need of a new station than is the fire department in need of a new station at this time.  He strongly urged that consideration be given to a one building project.



City hall office space is now so acute that during the closing minutes of last night’s meeting of the city council Councilman Floyd Shaefer offered the suggestion that the city look into the possibility of acquiring the former building of the Watertown Savings and Loan Association on Third Street for office purchases.  The building is equipped with a large vault and much of the space is furnished for office purposes, easily convertible for city office usage.  The suggestion was offered by Mr. Shaefer as an alternative to extensive remodeling of the present city hall which, he said, would be costly.  WDT




The city council which is currently involved in a long standing hassle over plans to provide new police department and jail facilities got another warning - a stern one and one that may well be final - from the state last night relative to the present and long-standing sub-standard condition of police department and jail quarters housed in the city hall - the same space and quarters the department has been forced to occupy since the present city hall was built in 1884.  Last night's warning, by letter and signed by V.A. Verhulst, representing the division of corrections, Wisconsin State Department of Public Welfare, was the latest in a series of proddings by the state that the city do something to clear up the jail issue without further delay.   WDT



The Bank of Watertown last night was granted permission to make use of the city hall alley in order to carry out its plans for a drive-in banking facility.  The bank hopes some day to acquire the present city hall to enable it to carry out a greater expansion program. 



04 12       The common council by unanimous vote last night gave the go ahead signal for a project which has been kicked around here for several years, including not only by the present council but during the previous one.  It approved contracts and financing for a new city hall which will be located in Memorial Park.  The meeting last night had been set for the specific purpose of taking final action on the proposal and as expected, the council decided to approve the project, since practically all arguments for and against it had long ago been exhausted.   WDT


09 06       The Bank of Watertown has made an officer, subject to negotiations, to acquire the present city hall property in North First Street [110 N First] in order to carry out its long standing plans for expanding its present bank facilities.  The offer was made public last night at the meeting of the common council.  That the bank seeks the property has long been a matter of record.  In fact some years ago, when Lawrence J. Lange was still president of the bank, it was announced at a meeting of the council that the bank wanted the present city hall when and if a new municipal building were constructed.  Such construction is now underway in Memorial Park and the city will occupy the new building late next year, vacating the present city hall which was erected in 1884.   WDT




Now that city offices and departments have moved into the new Watertown Municipal Building in Memorial Park, the future use of the old city hall remains to be resolved, Mayor Robert P. White has informed members of the common council.  The mayor has announced to them that at the present time a stalemate exists on the previously announced plans by the Bank of Watertown to acquire the building for its long contemplated expansion plans, chiefly of the Masonic fraternity, owners of the Masonic Temple, which houses, in addition to numerous offices, the department store of the Charles Fischer and Sons Co., have been unable to reach a definite agreement.   WDT



Plans to dispose of a number of items which are still housed in the old city hall building are expected to be discussed and acted on at Tuesday night’s meeting of the common council, Mayor Robert P. White said today.  He said the council must set a date for auctioning off a number of tables, desks, a refrigerator and other articles for which no use has been found in the new municipal building.  There isn’t too much remaining to be sold, the mayor said, but some people may be interested in buying what there is.  The auction is planned to clear the building and prepare for turning over possession to the Fischer and Sons Co. department store which recently bid $22,500 for the property.    WDT



Mayor Robert P. White today announced that the auction for the sale of the remaining furnishings at the old city hall building will be held Dec. 12 at 10 a.m.  The auction will be held in the fire department apparatus room of the old city hall building.  All furniture will be displayed starting at 9 o’clock that morning.  Mayor White said, “A various assortment of items will be sold at this auction.  There are about 30 different types of chairs, some tables, wood files, a refrigerator, gas stove, and three window air-conditioning units.  We obviously cannot guarantee the condition or operation of any of this equipment.”    WDT




The Charles Fischer and Son Co. which purchased Watertown’s old city hall last year, is expected to assume possession shortly, now that legal matters involving the transfer of the property have been completed.  That information was given common council members by Mayor Robert P. White at the council's committee meeting last night.  The mayor said the deed has been signed and that City Attorney David J. Fries had worked on the legal aspects of the sale.  The mayor said that the new owners expect to begin demolishing the building, constructed in 1861- 62, this spring to clear the site for a parking area for the store's customers.  WDT




The Meyer and Wolf properties in North First Street, to be used as part of the North First Street parking lot expansion, were acquired this forenoon by the city when the purchases, recently authorized by the common council, were finalized.  The price for the Meyer property was $26,000 and for the Wolf property $27,500.  Both were assessed at a higher figure.  The old city hall property will be turned over to the city at a later date, as soon as legal preliminaries are completed, the mayor said today.  The property is being given to the city by the present owner, the Chas. Fischer and Sons Co., without charge.



Mayor A. E. Bentzin is expected to present a report to the common council at its committee meeting next Monday night on his recent trip to Monroe, with a number of aldermen, where they inspected the Monroe two-level parking lot.  The trip, which had been suggested at an earlier meeting of the council, was made as part of the study to help the aldermen determine how best to make use to create the expanded parking lot in North First Street for which three properties have recently been acquired by the city‚ the former Wolf and Meyer building and the former city hall.  The intention is not to start work on the expansion until after a plan has been decided on which will make the best possible use of the land area that will result when the three buildings are razed.



The architectural-engineering firm of Durrant-Deininger-Dommer-Kramer- Gordon of Watertown is launching a North First Street parking feasibility survey to help the common council decide what will be the best means of expanding the present parking lot facilities in that area.  At its Aug. 1 meeting the council authorized such a study and will await the report before the next step in expanding the present facilities is taken.  The city earlier this year acquired two of the North First Street properties which adjoin the present parking lot, namely the Wolf Estates site and the Meyer Ambulance Service property.  In addition, the city also accepted, without charge, the old city hall which was presented to the city by the Chas. Fischer and Son Co.



A summary of the recently completed feasibility study involving a proposed parking ramp in the development for expansion of parking facilities in North First Street was presented to members of the common council at their committee meeting last night.  The presentation was made by Jerold W. Dommer of Durrant-Deininger-Dommer-Kramer-Gordon, Watertown architects and engineers who conducted the study which was authorized several months ago by council action.  To be used in the expansion of parking facilities are three properties which the city acquired earlier this year directly south of the present North First Street parking lot — the former Wolf and Meyer properties which the city purchased and the old city hall which was presented to the municipality by the Fischer and Son Co. which had purchased it from the city during the previous city administration.




Work is to begin very soon on the razing of the three buildings on North First Street where the parking ramp will be erected.  Garrett Construction Company, Inc. of Madison, which has been awarded the contract for the work, has informed city officials that he wants to start the demolition operation at once.  The contract has been mailed to him.  His bid was $5,980.  It will be completed in 30 days.  The three buildings are the old City Hall building, the former Meyer building and the former Wolff property.





Demolition of the old city hall, constructed in 1882-84, began this morning, the last of three buildings in North First Street to be removed to make room for the city’s new parking facilities.  First portion of the old building to come down was the chimney near the northeast area of the structure.  The city hall, which was abandoned when the municipal offices and departments occupied the new municipal building on the site of the former Memorial park, was constructed during the administration of Mayor William Rohr, who served from 1882 to 1884.  The first mayor to occupy it for a full two-year administration was Albert Solliday who was elected in the spring of 1884 and served until the spring of 1886.



The common council at its meeting next week is due to receive a report in the bids which were opened yesterday afternoon at the municipal building for the proposed parking ramp scheduled for North First Street.  The bids ran higher than preliminary estimates.  The lowest base bid for a three-floor construction project was filed by the Siesel Construction Co. of Milwaukee.  The figure submitted is $351,000.  If a two-floor project is ordered the bid will run $65,000 less.



Construction of a two-level parking ramp to accommodate 144 cars has a better chance of being approved by the common council than the larger, three-level ramp which will accommodate 235 cars.  Bids for the project planned in North First Street were opened and made public last week.  The 215 car ramp would cost a total of $397,323 of which the general construction base bid, entered by the Steel Construction Co. of Milwaukee, is $251,000.  The rest would represent plumbing work and electrical work, plus architect's fees of $22,073, contingencies of $7,358, plus installation of meters.  The cost per stall would be $1,848.



The Board of Directors of the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce has expressed opposition to the proposed ramp and recommends that the newly acquired properties on North First Street be utilized for street level parking and suggests proposal No. 3 as outlined in a recent bulletin of the chamber.  Proposal No. 3 calls for fixing up the area to accommodate 40 cars, at an estimated cost of $57,500.  Of the two street level options, proposal No .3 calls for the smallest outlay of money.



The need for a North First Street parking ramp to help solve the ever-growing downtown parking problems was emphasized last night for members of the common council by a group of representative downtown business men.  To turn down the long planned, long discussed and long studied ramp at this time would be regressive and not in the best interests of a growing community, the council was told at its regular committee meeting.  Tonight the aldermen are to decide the issue.  Citing a recent letter issued by the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce, based on a poll that was taken among its members, as not being representative of the sentiment of the membership, Andrew McFarland of the Busse Pharmacy, a former alderman and a member of the board of directors of the chamber of commerce, said the poll reflected only 15 per cent of the membership.



City Attorney David Fries last night tossed a legal bombshell into the proceedings of the common council meeting just minutes before the aldermen were ready to vote on awarding contracts for the construction of the North First Street parking ramp last night.  Fries cited an opinion he had obtained only yesterday from the legal counsel for the League of Wisconsin Municipalities on which he said the city could not tap specific funds to provide financing for the ramp.



Plans for the construction of Watertown’s much debated and controversial parking ramp in North First Street were killed last night by a single vote in the common council.  The resolution to finance the construction by means of transferring available funds was lost by a 9 to 5 vote.  Ten votes were required for adoption.  Before the vote was taken Alderman Kenneth Wilkes sought to have the vote taken by ballot, with each alderman voting yes or no and signing his name to the ballot, a procedure he asserted was proper although it has never been done before.



The common council which on Aug. 20 defeated plans for the construction of a parking ramp in North First Street is still plagued by the issue and last night decided “to start all over again” by naming the council’s safety committee to begin a study and make a survey relative to a possible plan calling for street level parking only on the site of the former city hall, the Meyer property and the Wolf Estate property which the city acquired last year to expand the present parking facilities in the area.  The question came up last night when Alderman Phil Gerloff inquired as to the probability of the Fischer and Son department store utilizing the space allotted to it for a future elevator, which is part of the agreement made with the city when the company turned over to the city the old city hall, with the provision that if and when it was torn down the city was to utilize the site for parking.




The architectural firm of Durrant, Deininger, Dommer, Kramer and Gordon have come up with an additional plan in connection with the North First Street parking lot.  It will be presented to the City Council at its committee meeting Monday night.  The new proposal, designated Scheme VI, provides for the parking of 122 cars in the area, at an estimated cost of $98,200.  The area includes the present parking lot between the street and the river, and the three properties to the south, the building on which have been razed.  It had been planned to erect a parking ramp on this site, but the plan lost by one vote in the City Council.  The latest alternate plan calls for the erection of a retaining wall at an estimated cost of $50,000.




  Image Portfolio  



Cross References:

City Hall, newer, on Jones St

Fire Department

Police Department


City Hall Constructed by Christian Schmutzler

City Hall After new street lights installed


I’m researching a Wisconsin architect named Edward Townsend Mix.  He was State architect in the 1860's.

There was an article concerning Watertown in a Milwaukee paper dated 1884 --Here’s the article:

"  April 20, 1884   9/3

City Hall Plans—There's desire among many of the citizens to have architect Mix of Milw draw the plans of the new city hall building WATERTOWN."


The building design is from the Coch plan ......  Feld collection, WR 07 02 1884.




Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin