Kingston City Hall (408 Broadway) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
Kingston City Hall is three stories, plus a mansard roof. The main (south) facade is nine bays wide. The side (west and east) facades are each seven bays wide. The rear (north) facade is ten bays wide. The plan is irregular in shape.
The walls are constructed of red brick, with continuous white brick belt courses at the window sill and lintel levels of each story. The bricks are laid in stretcher bond. The foundation is regular ashlar of local limestone with a beveled stone water table.
The structural system is load bearing brick walls. Concrete beams support the floors. These beams were installed during repairs to the building following a fire in 1927.
The sides of the mansard roof bear slate shingles. The top, flat portion of the roof is covered with built-up roofing. There is a simple brick cornice with dentils. Before the 1927 fire, the roof form was more complex, being made up of a number of intersecting segments of pitched roofs with dormers.
There are brick porches over the secondary entrances in the east and west facades. Dormers in the mansard roof are each one bay wide and have hipped roofs. Dormers are located on the east and west ends of the south and north, south and central sections of the east and west facades.
The brick bell tower which rises above the mansard roof is located in the central portion of the main (south) facade of the building. The open belfry has iron rails and three round arches, supported by stone columns on each facade. A pyramidal roof tops the belfry. Following the fire in 1927, the tower was modified from a more elaborate original design and rebuilt.
Beneath the window sills of the third story on all facades are decorative sandstone spandrels. The main entrance to the building is located at the base of the bell tower. Twelve-panel double doors are flanked by stone pilasters which support a carved stone lintel. Over the lintel is a pointed stone arch, which frames decorative ironwork. A course of enriched molding extends from either end of the carved lintel to the east and west sides of the main entrance bay. A single griffin sits on top of the molding on each side of the arch. On either side of two flights of sandstone steps in front of the main entrance are brick walls with sandstone copings.
Important interior features include a large entrance stair hall, circulation hall, terrazzo floor and stair treads, and a large third floor council chamber.
Kingston City Hall is a fine example of Victorian architecture. It stands as a prominent landmark at the community's center. It is a prime expression of the growing wealth and economic importance of the city during the canal and steamboat era. Long a house for the city government, the building is also associated with a major period of growth in Kingston.
At the time of construction, the villages of Kingston and Rondout had just been consolidated and incorporated as the City of Kingston. Situated on the boundary line between Kingston and Rondout, the building location was a model of compromise. Erected to serve the new city, the City Hall was built at a moment of economic hyperactivity in the area's development. Kingston was chosen as the new county seat; it was a source for cement and bluestone; it served as a terminal of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, and it was located at the intersection of three railroads. The City Hall was the direct result of this activity and its architecture reflected the enthusiasm and solidarity of the community.
Architect Arthur Crooks designed the building for Kingston. Born in England, he immigrated to the United States in the 1850's. During the Civil War he served as a colonel in the Union Army. Crooks worked in Richard Upjohn's office before beginning his private practice. He is best known for his residences and churches.
Constructed in 1872-1873, the building is characterized by its large central tower and by the wall configuration which clearly reflects the disposition of spaces within. After it was damaged in a fire in 1927, some rebuilding was necessary, but even though the tower and roof were modified stylistically, most of the building's exterior features remain in their original condition. Associated architects Myron Teller, George Lowe and Gerard Betz directed the repairs.
An architectural reflection of prosperity in the nineteenth century, Kingston City Hall, on an elevation almost twenty feet above the main thoroughfare, still dominates the immediate vicinity. For almost one hundred years, the City Hall has continued to play a significant role in the community, both by serving in a political function and by remaining a visual link between nineteenth and twentieth-century life in Kingston.
DeLisser, Richard Lionel. Picturesque Ulster. Revised edition. Woodstock, New York: Twine's Catskill Bookshop, 1968.
Files of the New York State Historic Trust.
Hutton, George V., Jr. Kingston, New York.
Kingston Daily Freeman.
Rubenstein, Lewis C. Historic Resources of the Hudson. Tarrytown, New York: Hudson River Valley Commission, January, 1969.
Withey, Henry F., and Withey, Elise Rathburn. Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased). Los Angeles: New Age Pub. Co. 1956.
[‡] Rennenlampf, Lenore M., New York State Historic Trust, Kingston City Hall, nomination document, 1971, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.