A tribute to Pasco's old city hall building.
City Hall soon just a memory
Published on May, 27, 1955
By Gus McCaslin
"The old order changeth, giving rise to the new," but it's a long tedious process full of backache, heartbreak and nostalgic memories.
That's what was happening today in Pasco when city employees lugged heavy boxes and files from the old, red brick city hall into the new, modern structure which isn't fully completed yet. It proves the immortal poem, "Morte D'Arthur," as true today as it was centuries ago in stating "the old order changeth..."
The red brick building, once the pride of Pasco, is now a worn-out relic, which will be torn down as soon as the offices are moved and salvaged for whatever it will bring.
The building vacated today by Pasco city officials was erected in 1911 at a cost of $30,000 after a tedious process of getting a town started on the 630 acres which was finally incorporated.
It began officially Sept. 16, 1891, with Ransom Olney as mayor and W. M. Aitchison clerk. They set the place of meeting for the city council in Olney's office by passing Ordinance No. 1 published officially in the Pasco Headlight Sept. 25, 1891.
Two previous attempts to incorporate failed. The first petition to incorporate was presented by D. W. Owen to Franklin County commissioners headed by W. P. Gray. The election was called for May 32, 1890. D. W. Page and Max Harder were county commissioners. The incorporation vote was defeated 37 to 18, but another petition came up April 4, 1891, in the courthouse. Election officers were D. W. Owen, W.P. Gray and George W. Haynie. Pasco was a town at last, with approximately 325 residents as of Jan. 1 1891.
Minutes of the City council showed the petition for incorporation was approved by them July 16, 1891.
The old city hall was first mentioned on city records in Ordinance No. 149 which called for a $30,000 bond issue. A special election was held July 25, 1911, and more than three-fifths of the voters approved the bond issue. The bonds were of $500 denominations. They were numbered from 1 to 60 and dated Aug. 1, 1911, payable in 20 years at 5 per cent interest.
W. P. Gray was mayor and L.H. Koontz city clerk. Shortly after the bond issue, J.H. Sylvester became mayor. Architects for the building was Lewis Wilson and Co., Portland and Chehalis, Wash.
Mrs. Adah Perry, city clerk, said construction began on the building soon after the bond issue.
Later a bell tower was constructed behind the city hall. It was torn down last fall, giving way to the new building, a flat, modern structure built for convenience. The old cracked bell is sitting across the street at Third and Clark awaiting its future home as a historic relic. It was used by the fire department to sound alarms.
In the moving process, the past kept jumping brightly into the foreground... the old papers, old ordinances relating to parking wagons and ox carts, salaries as low as $15 per month, yellow scrip used for money during the depression and particularly a little cedar tree which was moved to Kennewick.
The tree, nurtured by city employees, was moved by Lewis Hopkins Co., the new hall contractor, so the old building could be torn down. Great pains were taken to save the tree, directly associated with early day law enforcement in Pasco and Franklin County. The tree was planted by Alf Buchanan, remembered by the old timers in the county for his love of dogs, cats and greenery. He used to say he was a "peace officer," not a police officer.
Mrs. Maude Mawson, 708 W. Lewis, who saw Pasco grow from four buildings on Lewis St. to the present booming city, wants some bricks from the city hall for souvenirs to go with the fire escape ladder she has from the old Hotel Pasco. Her first husband, Mr. Foy, helped to build it.
But, beginning next week, the red brick city hall, which has served the city well through the lean years and the good years, will go the way of the ox carts, wagons, horses and mules. Once the Pride of Pasco, it will become a memory.