New city hall construction headed 1939 news
(Editors Note: This is one of a series of articles about the history of the Sun Advocate and the county it covers as a newspaper. These articles are being prepared as the 120th anniversary of the newspaper's birth approaches in 2011.)
Today, for those that have lived in the area for a long time and those who were born here, it is hard to imagine Price without the city hall and civic auditorium as it sits the corner of 200 East and Main Street today. But as with all things, at one time the seemingly old building was once brand new.
The idea for building the building was first proposed to the city council in February of 1936 by a committee representing the Price Kiwanis Club. At that time a committee consisting of Charles Ruggeri, L.R. Eldredge and Claude Empey proposed the idea of building a civic auditorium that would house the city offices, a recreation center and garages for the cities two fire trucks. The plan presented was to utilize the corner where the existing city hall (built in 1895) was located. The cost of the building was projected to be about $200,000 with some money coming from the city and some from the federal government.
In March the Price Chamber of Commerce got behind the proposal saying that they were in favor of "supporting a campaign pointing toward securing adequate municipal auditorium quarters for Price."
How much all this was a reaction to the fact that Helper was building an auditorium for their citizens was not noted in the papers of the time, but it probably played some role, in that the towns were in a rivalry over many things in those days.
In April of that year, the city council approved having the architectural firm of Cannon and Fetzer draw up some preliminary plans for the building. During the planning stages and the examination of the project, it was found that $200,000 was not enough to build the proposed building as proposed so the recreation section of the building was taken out of the plans. The city also applied for $130,000 to the Public Works Administration (PWA) for funds to help with the project.
A year later the PWA had approved the request and the city called for a special election for a bond of $85,000 to complete the finances for the project. Just before the special election (held April 2, 1937) the city fathers asked citizens to support the bond through an announcement in the Sun Advocate.
"It is contended that the new hall will aid Price in developing its convention program," stated the announcement. In retrospect for years after the city built the auditorium it did get a number of conventions that used the facility for their meetings. The bond passed 212 to 42. The small turnout for the election was deemed a overwhelming vote for the idea of building the structure because as the paper at the time put it "that the success of the issue was considered such a certainty that voters did not even bother to visit the polls."
By September the city offices in the old hall had been moved to the basement of the Carnegie Library (located at the time where the Peace Garden is now). On Sept. 9 crews began to tear the old building down, with the first brick from the building be removed by Arthur Horsley, who had been the superintendent of construction that building and had laid the first brick for the structure in the fall of 1895.
In January of 1938, 13 bids were opened for the construction of the new building. The bid was awarded to the firm of Faucett and Pessetto for a total of $139,993. Work began on the preparation and foundation in mid-January and in April the cornerstone to the building was laid in a formal ceremony.
Initially, because of cost and as noted earlier, the gymnasium was left out of the construction project. However Mayor J. Bracken Lee was adament that the facility be constructed and had city personnel apply to the PWA for more money for the addition. That money came through before the construction on the main building was finished and Faucett and Pessetto got an additional contract for $29,900 to put that addition on.
In late November the city offices were done and the city staff moved into the new building. The city council held their first meeting there on Nov. 21.
So as the temperatures dropped into winter and January of 1939 (which became a year for low record highs) came along the finishing touches were being put on the building.
By February it was done and the dedication took place late that month, with officials from around the state attending.