Hello fellow Berlinites. After becoming a city in 1897, sixteen years of fast growth brought forth the idea from the Mayor and City Council to construct a brand new city building. This one would replace the aged building that stood on Mechanic Street in back of the old Office Products structure, which no longer stands (2016).
Berlin had doubled in size and was now a busy small industrial municipality. So, on Monday evening July 14, 1913, at the meeting of the Mayor and City Council, plans and drawings were presented and accepted for a new city edifice (City Hall) to be erected on the corner of Main and Mason Streets on what was known as the Brooks lot. A place called Brooks Pharmacy and a bar once stood there.
The plans called for a two-story building with a basement. The basement on the ground floor on Main Street would be above grade, with two direct entrances. One of these would be next to the Sheridan Block and enter into the Police Department. This would hold the patrolman's room, judge's room and detention room for prisoners. There would be rooms on other levels for city treasurer, tax collector, street commissioner and city engineer.
The rear wing on Mason Street would provide for a reception hall with a stage, dressing rooms, horse gallery and a hall with a seating capacity of 500 people.
There were many other things to be built into this building and I mentioned them in my story entitled City Hall many years ago. The entire building was to be fireproof, built with steel frames and having concrete floors. The copula on the roof was going to have a large clock, weather-vane and a flagpole. This building construction got started as soon as the working drawings could be completed and the contractor's estimates were ready. It was expected to be finished in the spring of 1914.
A small headline in the newspaper on June 19, 1913 said: “New Jackson Six in City Thursday”. The parade of the schoolchildren that took place on Thursday, June 12, as a connecting link to the high school commencement exercises received many favorable comments because of the use of automobiles.
Together with this parade as mentioned, there was an exhibit of some of the finest machines in this city. Those automobiles were used to convey the graduates and presented a very pretty sight. Among the cars that were given special attention was the 1913 Jackson Six, which appeared in the parade through the courtesy of the firm of Morris and Morse of Portland, Maine. Mr. Morse drove this newest model and demonstrated all the finer points that placed this vehicle in a class by itself. The price was around $1,200. Try to buy one in the same condition for that price today. There were not many cars on the streets of Berlin in 1913, but they were starting to increase in volume and people must have been excited to see these rare vehicles in the parade.
Along with occasional new autos, theater goers of Berlin were going to be treated to something novel in the amusement line at the Albert Theater, when the famous talking pictures that were creating such a great commotion in the large cities, were going to be shown locally.
Ever since the famous talking pictures were demonstrated a few years before 1913, the public had been awaiting this feature here in Berlin. These were shorts and not full-time movies, full-time movies developed later in the 1920's and early 1930's.
These shorts were a way to convey to the audience the meaning of every action and movement by the characters on the screen, which up to this time had been a accomplished vaguely by pantomimist. Makers of these pictures had been able to obtain the services of Raymond Hitchcock, Rose Berger and several Broadway stars to pose for these pictures. How thrilling this must have been to see and hear for the first time.
Of course, we had many different types of immigrants coming into town in 1913 and many times the newspaper did not refer to them by name when they got into trouble. They would only mention them by nationality unless they were seriously injured or deceased.
An August 14, 1913 headline went like this: “Polanders on Exchange Street”. There were 19 in number, who appeared before Judge Ryan in district court and they were charged with noise and brawl.
As a result of numerous complaints received by the police department on Friday, August 8, 1913 “Polanders” were taken into custody from a house on Exchange Street. They were charged with noise and brawl and they were then brought before the District Court on the next day in the morning with a five dollar fine being imposed on the respondents.
From Saturday until Monday morning the local police had a busy time, with the result that 14 of these men appeared in the docket charged with various offenses. The funny thing was that none of them had claimed Berlin and as their home city.
On Tuesday morning, only four appeared before the court, three were charged with being drunk on public streets and one was charged with being a pawnbroker without a license. From the evidence of witnesses, it appeared that a watch had been left with the defendant for a loan of four dollars, with the understanding that interest at the rate of $.50 per month should be repaid.
City Clerk P. J. Smyth testified that no license had been issued to the party by Mayor and City Council and as a consequence a fine of five dollars and costs was imposed. I wonder if this law is still in the books and how did the officials find out about this person buying the watch.
On Wednesday morning, in addition to three ordinary drunks, one culprit appeared charged with noise and brawl and received a fine of five dollars. Another plead guilty to a complaint against him charging assault and from the evidence of the complainant, there was no provocation for the beating. A fine of three dollars and cost was imposed in this case. These were always headlines back then and some of them seem funny today, but this was the law back then, as Berlin had a rough and tumble bunch of people roaming the streets. A fine of five dollars was pretty hefty in these days.
I will continue with the history of our beloved city of Berlin in my next writing.