By Thomas Palmer
There are many interesting pieces of furniture at the current Municipal Building on Harding Way East. Most are quite utilitarian, as would be expected. Other items, such as the large table at which City Council sits at regular and committee meetings, date to the construction of the building in the late 1930s when new office furniture, lighting fixtures, and window shades were ordered.
The money used for the building and furnishings was from federal WPA grants. The Works Progress Administration (WPA), established during the Great Depression in 1935, was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, funding a range of public works projects to stimulate the U.S. economy and reduce unemployment. One of the key areas it supported was the construction of public buildings, such as schools, libraries, roads, and post offices. The WPA invested over $13 billion (over $200 billion in today’s dollars) into these projects, which not only provided jobs for millions of Americans but also significantly contributed to the modern infrastructure of the United States.
In 1879, Galion’s City Building, which sat at the same spot as the current version, received a renovation in terms of interior decor. The change was profiled by the Galion Inquirer, which shared this:
“The rooms on the second floor, intended for the Mayor’s Office, council chamber, clerk’s office, etc, are being transformed into some semblance becoming such quarters, thanks to the enterprising spirit of P.F. Case and other members of the council.”
Philip F. Case, a then council member, was then in the process of planning a major investment immediately to the east of the City Building. He would soon build a very large set of buildings which would go on to occupy a significant chapter in Galion history, one which we will consider in due course.
Case was also a relative by marriage of the Gill Family; his wife was the first cousin of Bloomer B. Gill.
The Inquirer goes on to describe the new furniture being installed.
“The Council chamber has been nicely kalsomined [NOTE – kalsomine was a kind of white or pale blue wash for walls and ceilings], a black walnut railing has been thrown across the center of the room, and a platform enclosed by another railing placed at the end of the room.
Inside the first rail is a nice hemp matting with chairs, and desk and spittoons for the Councilmen and a desk at each end between the platform and walls for the reporters of the city papers…The gas fixtures are elegant but not extravagant, as are the other fixtures and furniture. There are fourteen desks in all, eight for the members of the council, two on the platform, two for reporters, and two extra ones for the committees.”
Each Saturday, we share a post about local history. We call this series “Galion History Corner,” and we will be sharing not only stories about our shared heritage but also updates on history news here in southeast Crawford County.
This series is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bernard M. Mansfield, whose “Your Historical Galion” was a fixture in weekend editions of the Galion Inquirer. Dr. Mansfield was a friend and family physician, and he inspired the current generation of Galion historians to continue his work.