Davenport City Hall

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Davenport City Hall
Davenport, Iowa City Hall.jpg
Davenport built a new City Hall in 1895 for $90,000, without issuing any bonds. [2]
Davenport City Hall is located in Iowa
Davenport City Hall
Location 226 W. 4th St.
Davenport, Iowa
Coordinates 41°31′27″N 90°34′35″W / 41.52417°N 90.57639°W / 41.52417; -90.57639Coordinates: 41°31′27″N 90°34′35″W / 41.52417°N 90.57639°W / 41.52417; -90.57639
Area less than one acre
Built 1895
Architect Ross,John W.; Morrison Bros.
Architectural style Romanesque Revival
Richardsonian Romanesque
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 82002639[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP April 22, 1982
Designated DRHP June 2, 1993[3]

Davenport City Hall is the official seat of government for the city of Davenport, Iowa, United States. The building was constructed in 1895. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and on the Davenport Register of Historic Properties in 1993.


Davenport started to outgrow its previous city hall, which had been built on Brady Street from 1857-1858.[4] The role of city government expanded during the mayoral administration of Henry Vollmer (1893-1896).[5] Among his major achievements were several public works projects. Streets were paved in the older sections of the city and developers laid out new subdivisions around the perimeter.

In 1895, in the midst of a deep national economic depression, Davenport built an ornate new City Hall. The cost was about $90,000 — an astronomical sum at that time — and the City constructed the new building without issuing any municipal bonds. Local legend has long suggested that the city retired the debt so quickly by taxing the city's brothels, but the fines levied against the brothels accounted for only between $7,000-$9,000 per year, just a portion of the financial windfall the city reaped in the mid-1890s. The bulk of the funds came from a new state law (the "mulct tax") which applied to the city's 150 illegal saloons and amounted to around $50,000 per year. This tax allowed for construction not only of City Hall, but also paved streets and a new sewer system, and from 1902-08, the city eliminated its property taxes altogether.[6]

The building is situated on the northeast corner of the intersection of Harrison Street (U.S. Route 61) and West Fourth Street in Downtown Davenport.


City hall was designed by Davenport architect John W. Ross,[7] who also designed the city's first fire station, Hose Station No. 1. It is a four story building constructed of sandstone in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The heavy stone appearance is deceptive as the weight of the building is born by a steel frame.[4] As is common with this style, the city hall integrates elements such as towers, rustic stone, and Roman arches. It also incorporates corner towers and gable ends. Three stories of windows line the front of the building with the two front corners containing cone-shaped roofs that stick out from the main roof. Above the entrance is a large clock tower that is taller than the rest of the building. An addition was constructed on the north side and does not correlate to the original architecture.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ Wood, Sharon E. (2005). The Freedom of the Streets: Work, Citizenship and Sexuality in a Gilded Age City. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. p. 181-2. ISBN 0-8078-2939-0. 
  3. ^ Historic Preservation Commission. "Davenport Register of Historic Properties" (PDF). City of Davenport. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  4. ^ a b Svendsen, Marlys A., Bowers, Martha H (1982). Davenport where the Mississippi runs west: A Survey of Davenport History & Architecture. Davenport, Iowa: City of Davenport. pp. 10–3. 
  5. ^ Svendsen and Bowers, 7-3
  6. ^ Wood, Sharon E., The Freedom of the Streets: Work, Citizenship and Sexuality in a Gilded Age City; Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, ©2005, pp. 181-2. ISBN 0-8078-2939-0.
  7. ^ Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs - State Historical Society of Iowa. "Davenport City Hall" (PDF). Davenport Public Library. Retrieved 2009-12-12.