Memories of city building live on

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published August 12, 1992 in The Suburban Life, added August 16, 2016.

The old Madeira Municipal Building which was torn down to make way for the just completed new city hall.

The old Madeira Municipal Building which was torn down to make way for the just completed new city hall.

When the old Madeira city hall, which once had been Madeira’s Methodist Church, gave way to progress and the spiffy new Madeira Municipal Building, it did not go gently.

Many citizens waged a losing battle to save the old building and remodel it, instead of erecting a new city hall.  And many people still resent its loss.

“I just felt real bad when they tore it down,” Genevieve Greene said.

Mrs. Greene had many reasons to mourn the passing of the old building.  She taught Sunday school there when it was a church, and she also has other happy memories of the church.

“It was a lovely church,” she said, “and we had a nice choir.”  She remembers the Christmas walks and the Easter suppers.  “We have always been a friendly church.  We feel that, and we like other people to know that too.”

Wanda Gardner also has happy memories of the building when it was a church.  Her high school graduating class held its baccalaureate service at the church in 1942.  Rev. Budd conducted the service.  She also remembers going to garden club meetings there.

The old church was completed and dedicated in April 1928.  The lot at the corner of Miami and Euclid had been bought for $1200 in 1924.  The building cost approximately $34,000.

Men of the congregation helped in the actual construction of the building.  The women of the church would prepare meals and serve men on the job, from early morning until hours after dark, as they labored.  The Depression set in soon after the completion of the church, and the small congregation used various means to meet their financial obligations and keep the church going.

During the 1930’s, the church went through difficult financial times.  There were periods when they did not know how they could pay the minister and keep the building warm.  The church was served by part-time ministers.

But the congregation persevered and kept the church going.  By 1951, the church had grown to 244 members.  They realized they needed a full-time minister, so they hired the Rev. Daniel Scovanner.

By 1955, the church mortgage had been paid and the church had grown to over 400 members.  At this time, plans were made to build a new community church, St. Paul Community Methodist, to serve both Madeira and Kenwood.

And so in 1958, Madeira Methodist Church merged into St. Paul Community Church.

St. Paul Church then sold the old church building at Miami and Euclid to the city of Madeira for $50,000.  Madeira remodeled the building at a cost of $125,000 to be used as a new municipal building.

The building was remodeled and Madeira moved into its city offices there in May 1959.

As a church, the building had been yellow brick.  When the city took it over, the exterior was painted a dark gray, with white trim, red roof and doors.

A newspaper article, dated May 27, 1959, lists the renovation as costing $125,000.

Madeira celebrated the opening of the new city hall, as it usually does such momentous events, with a parade and an open house.

In 1964, the building was completely repainted, inside and out, and the heating and air conditioning systems were changed and improved.

In the late 1970’s, the building was again remodeled at a total cost of $93,647.

In a 1987 appraisal of the building, its value was listed as a total of $202,020 – $93,590 for the land and $108,430 for the building.

You might want to compare some of these figures with figures from 1796 when the  .623-acre lot of the building sold for 41.5 cents.

Oven the years, many community events and meetings occurred in the old municipal building.  For years, two polling places were located there where people voted and visited with neighbors on election days.

And for a time, until the building of the new Madeira Branch Library, the library was located in the old building.  The librarians were Carol Hauss and Mary Van Pelt.

Van Pelt has many memories of those years.  She remembers standing at the window and watching Miss Nelle Hosbrook try to cross the intersection at the corner of the building when the streets were completely glazed with ice.  She held her breath, but Miss Nelle, already quite old, made it across.

In 1989, the Ohio Historical Society described the old building as:  “Renaissance Revival – a one-story, t-shaped brick building with a front gable and a large, round, brick arch tripartite window, intersected by a stone belt course,” It went on to describe the tower and the brick lintels and stone sills.

Most people in Madeira don’t remember the old municipal building.  They see it in there hearts, as it looked when they walked past it or when they attended church there, browsed in the library, voted, or attended some community event or celebration with their families and visited with their neighbors.

They are memories permanently etched.  They will not go away.