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Pawtucket City Hall

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art (National Register of Historic Places)

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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Pawtucket City Hall is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. It was built in 1935 and designed by architect John F. O'Malley in the Art Deco style. The main body of the building is three stories tall and the tower reaches a height of 209 feet. It was the first and one of the largest state projects completed under the National Recovery Act of 1933, which established the public works programs of the New Deal initiative started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The building holds further significance in that it was an early example of city hall where all city functions were located, which was a novel idea at the time. This consolidation of city departments into one building can be attributed to the mayor during the 1930s, Mayor Thomas P. McCoy, who earned the nickname "Boss" for his grip on power which lasted 22 years. Among his achievements was leading the effort to construct the new city hall building.


Pawtucket City Hall was built in 1935 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

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Pawtucket City Hall, An Art Deco designed building constructed during the Great Depression, is comprised of three distinct segments that serve as the headquarters to both the fire department and police department, as well as a city hall.  One can see the segments easily, with the fire department on the north wing, the police department on the southern wing and the city hall located in the main, central wing marked by its 209-foot high central tower capped with an unusual tomahawk weather vane.

The entire building is of steel-framed, fireproof construction. The inside includes plenty of ornate details, marble features, and Art Deco inspiration. Green, Roman tiles originally covered the entire roof, but now only a portion of those tiles remain on the western section of the building while green shingles cover the remaining, majority of the roof. Exterior walls are composed of cinder blocks and faced with a pale, yellow brick. The exterior is also accented by an abundance of ornate, cast-stone trim and a dozen cast-stone panels, located on the western facade that pays homage to city's history -- many of the city's people, buildings, scenes, and events are carved into the panels. 

Built at a cost of $450,000 from 1933-1936 during the Great Depression, the Pawtucket City Hall exists as the first, and one of the largest Rhode Island projects started under the National Recovery Act of 1933 that provided Public Works Administration funds. Not surprising given the economics of the time, the building uniquely tied most of the city government offices into one building along with the fire and police departments. 

The hall also serves as a monument to Pawtucket's Mayor Thomas P. McCoy, who served as mayor for twenty years, during which time the hall was proposed, planned, and constructed. Similar to many mayors during the middle part of the twentieth century,  McCoy enjoyed a "boss" status known for possessing a stronghold on the city's political machine. During his tenure, he also secured funding from the Federal Government to build a new high school, a municipal stadium, and a new filtration and water plant.

Sources

Brown, M. Craig, and Charles N. Halaby. "Machine Politics in America, 1870-1945." The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 17, no. 3 (1987): 587-612. doi:10.2307/204612.

Dorsett, Lyle W. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the City Bosses. (Interdisciplinary Urban Series.) Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1977.

Kierstead, Matthew, Christine Longiani and Mary Varden. "Nomination Form: Exchange Street Historic District." National Register of Historic Places. June, 2002. 
http://www.preservation.ri.gov/pdfs_zips_downloads/national_pdfs/pawtucket/pawt_exchange-street-hd.pdf

"Nomination Form: Pawtucket City Hall." National Register of Historic Places. November 18, 1983. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/20482802-2a30-4876-a987-e1d46c36c5bb.

Photo Sources

Pawtucket City Hall: By Kenneth C. Zirkel - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28128656

Address
Pawtucket City Hall
,
Phone Number
(401) 728-0500
Tags
  • Architecture and Historical Buildings
  • Political and Diplomatic History
  • Urban History
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This location was created on 2018-07-05 by Ben M. .   It was last updated on 2018-10-19 by Mathew Powers .

This entry has been viewed 455 times within the past year

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