Township hall ready to celebrate 125 years

Opinion: Kosey Corner

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By Joanne Kosey


Some subjects bear repeating, and this week's column will do just that as we revisit the Grande Dame of buildings in Riverside, the Township Hall.

The landmark building is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Located at 27 Riverside Road, it was designed by architect George Ashby. In a brochure listing landmarks in Riverside, the date for its design and construction is circa 1895. But, a bulletin from Riverside Township states authorization for construction was in September of 1894 with dedication occurring on Nov. 4, 1894. At the time of the dedication, a time capsule was placed in the building.

The building is referred to as French chateau style architecture. Composition of the structure is limestone and brick, complemented with decorative stone. Most impressive on the building is the large clock donated by the ancestors of Judy West Jisa, who also was instrumental in helping to restore the clock to working order.

In its 125 years the building has hosted many events, especially the auditorium on the second floor. What eighth-grade graduate of Hauser Junior High cannot help but conjure up memories of the annual graduation party or learning the social graces and how to dance at Fortnightly. The graduation party still exists. 

How many meetings of the Junior Woman's Club were hosted at the township hall?  Too many to count. It for years has also hosted the Lions Club's annual chicken dinner, and its stage was home to many plays. The Riverside Township Radio Players now recreate old-time radio shows there. 

The Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon meetings there, and it was where I met Gary Fencik of the Bears. (Long story, another time). Many happenings in the big room remembered and forgotten over time.

The third floor remains the township assessor's lair. It houses the assessor's office, now named in memory of the late Scuffy Gross, which is now in the capable hands of Assessor Fran Sitkiewicz. Beautiful view from that office.

On the main floor, if you go right you enter the village offices. Go left and you'll find the township office and Supervisor Vera Wilt at your service. The late George Glaser, who was a longtime township supervisor, would tell me there was a bit of animosity between the village and the township because he wanted it known that the building was the township hall. Obviously, things have changed and we all get along.

What would an anniversary be without a party? Save the date of Nov. 2, 2019 to celebrate the building's anniversary. Find out what is in the time capsule and what is going into the new time capsule. 

What do you think will be uncovered?

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Vera Jandacek Wilt  

Posted: October 3rd, 2019 1:03 PM

I too have questioned the timeline of the authorization and the dedication, but that is the information we have from Town Board minutes, and newspaper accounts of the day. It appears the dedication came well before the building was completed. It was, after all, a cornerstone ceremony, so it may have been practice to dedicate a building during the construction period once you got past the cornerstone. Since our November 2nd event is a re-dedication of the building, we are trying to coincide historically with the original dedication.There was a community party celebrating the new town hall on August 22, 1895, and we our party will allow for warming up right after the re-dedication. Accounts compiled by the Riverside Historical Commission in 2005 say that the building was not officially opened for business until a few months after the August 1895 party. More than a year of construction sounds more likely.

Reenie Prine from Naples  

Posted: October 3rd, 2019 10:45 AM

I remember, as a child growing up in Riverside, going to the Town Hall on Saturday mornings to see movies in the upstairs meeting room. I believe it was usually a Western Movie. Memories.

Elmer Perkins  

Posted: October 1st, 2019 6:13 PM

That time frame, authorizing the construction in Sept. of 1894, and a dedication ceremony in November of 1894, would seem to indicate that it only took 2 months to build the township hall. I know labor was cheap back then, but I have my doubts...

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