What is This Former Grand Rapids Landmark on the Corner of Ottawa and Lyon?
They began building this classic Gothic Victorian-era building in 1885. It officially opened in 1889 and was the architectural pride of Grand Rapids in it's time. The Grand Rapids Metropolitan area only had a population of around 75,000 when the building was dedicated with a ribbon cutting and grand ceremony, and thousands turned out to see the magnificent structure with it's beloved clock tower. What was it? This was Grand Rapids City Hall, and it was on the corner of Ottawa and Lyon, downtown.
Spring ahead about 85-years or so, time passes, and things can't last forever, and it was in the '60s, the era of Urban Renewal, when things took a turn for the worse for the classic old building. Tom Carter wrote on the Facebook page, If You Grew Up in Grand Rapids, that more than 100-buildings were being slated for demolition downtown, including City Hall, to make way for sparkling new buildings, and of course, make way for the expressway!
131-EXPRESSWAY CONNECTION BEING BUILT TO A NEW EAST BOUND I-196 AT SCRIBNER
Grand Rapids residents fought tooth and nail to save City Hall with demonstrations and court proceedings still taking place even as bulldozers arrived on the scene.
It was front page news across the country when Mary Stiles chained and handcuffed herself to the wrecking ball before demolition.
MARY STILES CHAINED TO CITY HALL WRECKING BALL
It was to no avail though, as the city officials and a judge's order prevailed. Demolition began in late October of 1969 and the destruction was complete at 10:00 AM on December 2, 1969, as the cherished clock tower hit the ground.
David Burhenn of Grand Rapids wrote on Facebook:
"Of course it was dirty after 85 years of coal smoke, auto exhaust and bird droppings. I'm sure that this didn't help. But imagine this building around today, cleaned and repurposed, with the clock tower joining the Calder as a symbol of a revitalized city."
Amen, David. Today, local Developer, Sam Cummings is grinding his teeth over this one!
Alas, progress moves on, so what sits on it's spot now?
KENT COUNTY COURT HOUSE
It sat as a parking lot for years, what doesn't, but was developed to be the Court House housing most all area courts.
Was there anything preserved and saved from the old Grand Rapids City Hall? Yes, of course, bricks, tiles, things like that. Oh, and one other thing. Remember the beloved clock tower from the old building? The clock was saved and sits in front of where it once rested for nearly 100-years.
Although it's not in a tower anymore, it remains ticking away on the corner of Ottawa and Lyon!
MORE: Some Fun Photos From Michigan's Past