Of late it seems I have been at the Riverside Township Hall numerous times. This past weekend it was the Lions Club annual chicken dinner. A few weeks ago it was to attend the dedication of a room on the third floor to the late Schofield “Scuffy” Gross, longtime township assessor and all around “Mr. Riverside.
Next we attended the dedication of the auditorium to the late Judy Baar Topinka, Riverside resident who held many state offices. Both events had good stories but the building itself has many stories and memories of its own.
Back in 1891 an agreement was reached with the township and the village of Riverside the two entities agreed that the village paying for the site and the township would pay for the construction of the building, designed by George Ashby. The building opened officially in 1895 with much fanfare.
The addition of the clock tower occurred in 1941 as a gift of Grace Sherman Cross in memory of her husband, father-in-law and son. Look for more on the story of the Cross family in this column soon.
Entering the stately building, one can go to the township offices on the left or village offices on the right. The first floor has a small meeting room and also the larger room where the village and township conduct board meetings.
However, the building also has been the site of many important events. What comes to mind first is the party for graduates of Hauser Junior High immediately following graduation exercises.
Parents spend the day decorating the large room with all that’s needed to make it an evening to remember. Chaperones are on hand to make sure all goes well while the young people enjoy dancing and refreshments.
The auditorium on the second floor has hosted plays, talent shows, radio show recreations, gatherings of all types that have kept the “old girl” busy all these years.
While we appreciate the functionality of both the North Riverside and Brookfield municipal buildings, Riverside’s grand building stands proud and erect as a focal point for the town and not only relates to early Riverside but the stories that are being made today and add to the history of the Riverside Township Hall.