Home | Whats New | Site Index | Search

Fort Wayne City

Allen County, Indiana

Fort Wayne City Hall is located at 1 East Main Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.
Phone: 260‑427‑1111.

John H. and Mary Abercrombie House

Photo: John H. and Mary Abercrombie House, built circa 1914, located at 3130 Parnell Avenue, Fort Wayne. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. Photographed by User:Nyttend (own work), 2014, via Wikimedia Commons, accessed May, 2021.

Beginnings [†]

Incorporated in 1840, the City of Fort Wayne received a portion of land through a donation by Samuel Hanna, who came to the area about 1820. On that site was erected in 1855 a City Hall and attached market place at a cost of $2,800. On July 27, 1869, the City Council ordered the municipal structure at the market place to be replaced with a new building that could house all the branches of the City's ever increasing departments.


[continued ]

Because Samuel Hanna by then a judge liked things done with dispatch, the second City Hall was finished that very year but it failed to provide all the room necessary to house the entire City government. By 1885, new noises were heard calling for a new City Hall that could house all the City's offices and bring pride to the community. A committee was formed to study details of a new building and 1892, after several annual tax levies, the committee provided $69,919.68 in the building construction fund. On April 20 1893, the new City Hall was completed at a cost of $57,489.00 and praised as "an ornament to the City," ... "the best, the most complete, most elegant appearing and most economically constructed City Hall in Indiana or anywhere else," stated one of the City's newspapers.

For a long time the forks of the three rivers located in Fort Wayne was considered one of the most strategic positions in the new world. It is possible now, as it was in the early 17th Century, to travel from Quebec, Canada up the St. Lawrence River through the Great Lakes, up the Maumee River to its junction with the St. Mary's and St. Joseph. Then, by portage only about eight miles, launch a boat into the headwaters of the Wabash River which, in turn, flows into the Ohio River. Thus, the travel from Quebec, Canada to New Orleans can be made completely by water except for an eight mile portage located here at Fort Wayne.

As early as 1632 the French saw the importance of a fort located here in order to secure a trade route, and in 1686 they built a fort called Miami after the Indian trip which controlled the area. In 1760 the French fort was captured by the British who were intent upon controlling the fur trade in the area. After that time, and until the American Revolution, the Union Jack flew over the fort.

On July 10, 1787, Secretary of War Henry Knox recommended a chain of posts in the now Indiana, Ohio area. These forts were to be built "to awe the savages, cover the surveyors and prevent (British) intrusions." One location he mentioned for such a post was the headwaters of the Maumee River. General Anthony Wayne, chosen by President Washington after the defeat of two American armies, was asked to secure the area for American settlement. The bold defeat of the Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket at the Battle of Fallen Timbers quickly settled the Indian uprising, and on September 17, 1794, General Wayne and his army reached the junction of the three rivers. On October 24th, five days after the general's army completed the building of a new American fort, the fort was formally named Fort Wayne by Colonel John Hamtranch. By 1819 all Indian trouble in this area had ended and the American troops left the post. However, several settlers were already establishing farms, and commercial trade stores. Among these settlers was a man named Samuel Hanna, who later would become one of the area's first judges. Around 1840, Samuel Hanna donated to the City of Fort Wayne the land in which the old City Hall now sits.

† David R. Vervalin, Assistant Director, Department of Urban Affairs, Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Indiana, CIty Hall, 1973, National Park Service Nomination Document, National Park Service, Washington, D.C., accessed September, 2021.