Roseville’s Old City Hall may soon be a thing of the past

Built in the Depression, historic site may soon be razed
By: J'aime Rubio for the Press Tribune
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One of Roseville’s historic buildings may be on the “chopping block” in the near future, leaving questions with some locals as to the price standing history will pay.

The Old City Hall at 316 Vernon Street is at risk of being destroyed in order to make way for a newer development project city leaders hope to land. In 2009, Roseville finalized its Downtown Specific Plan, which identified the Old City Hall — owned by the city — as destination for mixed-use development. A citizens’ committee did offer input for the plan at that time.  

But Christina Richter, president of the Roseville Historical Society, feels that the city is going about redevelopment in the wrong way.

“History is more than just filing away photos, deeds and documents,” Richter said. “These buildings are part of Roseville’s history, and this city has a great history.”

Built in 1935 under the national W.P.A. program, created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Old City Hall is considered a memorial to hard working people who withstood the Great Depression. City leaders recently said that the historic post office adjoining 316 Vernon is safe for at least the next five years, though the city hall property is not.

According to Richter, a part of the old City Hall building was originally Roseville’s first Presbyterian Church, constructed in 1882.

In 1935, instead of demolishing the church and building over it, the city of added onto it — adjoining a newer structure to its facade. That building was used as the city hall annex until 1987, when operations were moved to the new Civic Center.

Although the building has been owned by the city since 1911, it has reportedly been neglected over time, leaving certain parts of it dilapidated and unkempt.

Roseville public information Brian Jacobson acknowledged the city is looking to build a new project at the site of the Old City Hall, but emphasized that this objective has been a matter of public record for years.

“Right now we’re exploring options for that property, but there are no definite plans, financial mechanisms or designs for it yet,” Jacobson noted. “In general, what the city is hoping for is a mix of retail, coffee shops, restaurants and offices. I wouldn’t be just a single designation — it wouldn’t only be, say, a big office building.”    

But Richter worries that the loss of the Old City Hall building will further put Roseville on a path where experiencing history happens through old books, photographs and documents, but not places residents can take-in with their own eyes.

“Although the city is redeveloping the downtown area on Vernon Street for the purpose of boosting the economy, they do not have to throw away its historical buildings in the process, Richter said. “Better business is good, but it is about balance.”