FREEPORT, ILLINOIS — Freeport’s roughly 22,500-square-foot City Hall, located at 230 West Stephenson Street, is the historic city hall of Freeport, Illinois. The city hall was built in 1899 to replace the previous city hall, which the city built in 1868 and had outgrown.
Architect David S. Schureman designed the Richardsonian Romanesque building; his design included a red stone exterior, a barrel ceiling decorated with frescoes, and a main staircase with an iron balustrade. The building’s frieze lists the names of important figures in science and literature; the first letters of each name spell out Schureman’s name, a loophole he exploited when city leaders denied his request to put his name on the cornerstone.
The city hall served the city continuously from its opening until 2011, when city government moved elsewhere due to safety issues; it also held the city’s police and fire departments for a time. It was also the site of several civil rights milestones for the city, as its first African-American alderman was elected and its first African-American police officer hired during the building’s tenure.
Freeport’s former City Hall building was listed for sale in May of 2017. The building had been vacant for the last six years prior and was thought it could be redeveloped. Worse case, torn down if it is not sold.
In 2016 Freeport’s old City Hall landed itself on the National Register of Historic Places. Citizens for Saving Freeport City Hall, which is comprised of about a dozen residents, were notified at the end of June that its application to put the former City Hall building along Stephenson Street on the National Register of Historic Places was accepted.
Towards the end of November 2018, Freeport’s city council had voted to demolish the building. On December 17th, preparations began and then on December 19, 2018 the first strike into the building occurred. Below is our coverage, both LIVE and filmed earlier, of the demolition.