* on National Register of Historic Places
St. Charles gained one of its most recognizable landmarks on September 1, 1940. The building, which cost $250,000, was built on the site of the old Fixture Factory which had burned in 1929. It was yet another gift of the Baker and Norris families to the city.
The building, designed by R. Harold Zook and D. Coder Taylor, was to house administrative offices, city council chambers, and a museum. While it indeed does all this, the building is important more so for its architectural style and the elements incorporated into the building. Designed in the Art Moderne style, a style which combined artistic expression with modern machine age technology, the Municipal Building has smooth lines, flat surfaces, and little ornament. The building is constructed of a black granite base and white Georgian marble. Bands of deeply recessed windows pierce the lower two floors of the building. On the interior, the architects incorporated fluorescent tube lighting throughout. This technology was relatively new in the late 1930s.
Perhaps the most beautiful
portion of the building is its eighty-four foot tall octagon
tower. Stained glass windows, pierced grillwork, and a diamond
shaped translucent top make the tower a scenic landmark.
Originally, the tower had chimes that tolled every quarter
hour. Unfortunately, they remained in working order only
until the end of World War II.
While the Municipal Building
remains essentially the same, there have been some changes
made over the years. In the early 1990s, the building had
to be updated in order to comply with the Americans with
Disabilities Act, at which time, a two story structure connecting
the Municipal Building with the old city building was constructed.
A mural is the latest addition to the building. Added in
1998, the mural documents the history of St. Charles through
depictions of significant historical figures and structures.
photographs, see these sources,
more fully described in the Bibliography.
History p 5, 11, 91, 112
Municipal Center Vertical File
Baker Memorial Park
Baker Memorial Methodist Church
Old St. Charles Post Office
Shirley. "Modern Municipal Building Celebrates 50th Anniversary."
St. Charles Chronicle 31 Jan. 1990, Our Towns:8:1.
Karri."Homage to Our Heritage." St. Charles Republican
9 July 1998, 3.
John. "A Sense of Style: Art Deco Tower Gives Scenic Outlook
to River." Kane County Chronicle 17 Nov. 1998 A:9:1.
Alice. Settlement and Growth of St. Charles. 1940.
Marc. "Meeting Half Way: City Building Link Aids Acessibility."
St. Charles Republican 27 Jan. 1994, 3.
of Philanthropists' Many Gifts to City: The St. Charles
Municipal Building." Historic Illinois, 3.