Friday, August 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Old Vallejo City Hall finds new life as museum

Old Vallejo City Hall

Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum executive director Jim Kern climbs the stairs to the attic and roof of the old Vallejo City Hall building Tuesday. The building, which was erected in 1927, is undergoing renovations to the roof. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | January 27, 2013 |

Editor’s note: This article continues a series that looks at Solano County’s historic buildings and places. Stories appear periodically.

VALLEJO — A popular feature at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum is something usually associated more with submarines than a 1927 Renaissance Revival building that once served as a City Hall.

A periscope at the top of the front entrance stairway rises out of the roof, allowing people to have a 360-degree view of Vallejo without stepping outside. It came from the USS Baya, a submarine decommissioned at Mare Island in 1980.

“It always attracts people,” museum Executive Director Jim Kern said.

The old Vallejo City Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. It owes its life to the museum.

By 1975, Vallejo was building a new City Hall on Santa Clara Street near the waterfront. It would soon no longer need the downtown building at 734 Marin St. and talk came up of destroying the structure.

It’s an old story for old buildings, even ones with historic significance: They outlive their original purpose and can’t find a new one. Vallejo over the years has lost such buildings as the Vallejo Women’s Club, designed by architect Julia Morgan, who is known for designing Hearst Castle. The Women’s Club building was constructed in 1921 and demolished in the early 1960s.

The old City Hall met a different fate. Vallejo agreed to lease the building to the Vallejo Naval and Historic Museum for 25 years. That lease got renewed and now extends until 2025.

“Hopefully at that time, the city will still appreciate what we do and renew the lease again,” Kern said.

The museum displays the history of Mare Island and Vallejo inside a building that is a piece of the city’s history. Kern has worked at the old City Hall since 1989, so he’s had a long time to become acquainted with it.

“I think it’s in good condition for its age,” Kern said with a smile. “But it does have a lot of idiosyncrasies, you could say.”

The electrical system is up to code, but circuits in panels on one floor connect to uses on another. Kern said there is no rhyme or reason to how it works.

“It’s hard to tell what’s live, what’s abandoned as far as old drain lines, old electrical lines – all kinds of things,” he said.

But unlike some Solano County historic buildings, the old City Hall gets a level of maintenance to keep it from deteriorating. For example, Vallejo recently put a new roof on it.

An attic inspection prior to the roof installation uncovered another relic, in this case an old Yellowstone whiskey bottle. Kern speculated that a one-time city worker kept it there and went up to the attic to sneak a drink on the job.

The museum is crammed full of Vallejo’s history, from old swords and uniforms to old typewriters to the six-foot-tall telephone switchboard that once served Vallejo residents.

Visitors will also see reminders that the building once served as a City Hall. The entrance to the city manager’s office still has the words “city manager” across the window on the door. A sign tells visitors where they can go to pay their bills.

The old City Council chamber is now used for community shows and events. Kern pointed to the three holes drilled in the backs of the old-fashioned, red-upholstery seats. Those mystery holes served a purpose during those decades when citizens went to the chamber to listen to their city leaders.

“Only two people have gotten it right off the bat,” Kern said. “They were for ashtrays.”

Another era, to be sure.

The old Vallejo City Hall opened in 1927, a prosperous time for the city, the same year when the Carquinez Bridge opened and brought increased auto traffic through the area.

Some might argue that old buildings that have outlived their uses might as well be destroyed, especially given the cost of maintaining them. Some might see no reasons to keep architectural monuments to faded glory days.

Kern, who has liked history since growing up in Ohio and being taken by his parents to Civil War sites, has a different view. Not all old buildings are worth saving, he said. But some are significant for their original use and some for their architecture, he said.

With the old Vallejo City Hall, it’s a combination of both factors, Kern said. The challenge, he said, is coming up with an appropriate new use for a historic building.

The old Vallejo City Hall is among Solano County’s historic buildings that have been reborn.

“It just worked out perfectly as a museum,” Kern said.

The Vallejo Naval and Historic museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Please go to http://www.vallejomuseum.org/ or call 643-0077 for more information.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

‘Boyhood’ mature on music, moments

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

 
Mr. Clean: Dennis Regan offers friendly jokes, with a bite

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Gemstones shine at Solano County Fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Trifecta: ‘The Who’s Tommy’ third play in three months

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Japan Summerfest returns this month

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Solano Tea Party Patriots schedule meet

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 7 Comments

 
Highway 12 to close overnight in Jameson Canyon

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Air district calls Spare the Air alert

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Vallejo police arrest suspect in shooting death

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Stabbing victim dies in Vacaville

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Abbas seeks broad support for war crimes charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US, UN announce deal on 72-hour Gaza cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

As US job market strengthens, many don’t feel it

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Dow plunges as multiple worries vex investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds 2011 union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
A look at the impact of Wisconsin’s union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Union: California prison staff told to fake checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

California ex-mayor sentenced in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Californians to see increase in health plan costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Appellate court overturns high-speed rail rulings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Report: Secrecy enveloped Bay Bridge construction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Yosemite wildfire weakened, evacuations to end

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Congress races to finish VA, highway bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
See-through mice reveal details of inner anatomy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

CIA spied on Senate, internal review finds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 2 Comments

NASA to test making rocket fuel ingredient on Mars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Investigators reach Ukraine jet wreckage site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
To err is human – but not in print

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

Why do so many Americans support Hamas

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 12 Comments

 
Nice guy becomes House majority leader

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

Should union organizing be a civil right?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History for Aug. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My irregular monthly cycles were a symptom of cancer, not menopause

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for Aug. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Aug. 1-7, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: Boseman drips with charisma as James Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

‘Godfather of Makeup’ Dick Smith dead at 92

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Starz’ ‘Outlander’ brings novels to life vibrantly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Dionne Warwick knows her way to San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
‘Sharknado 2′ whipped up storm of viewers, tweets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Chekwa taking reps with Raiders while Hayden sits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Safety Bethea finding a groove with new 49ers team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Expos fall short in 10-9 loss to Leghorns

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

 
A’s deal Tommy Milone to Twins for Sam Fuld

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

A’s get Lester, Gomes from Red Sox for Cespedes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Another decent start for Woods at Firestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Ravens’ Rice: His actions ‘totally inexcusable’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Dustin Johnson takes leave of absence from golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Commonwealth Games athlete convicted for assault on rival

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Lynch ends holdout, arrives at Seahawks camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Nick Watney leads PGA Barracuda Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Rich get richer: Rays’ Price traded to Tigers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Dumdumaya takes third in World Junior/Junior Olympic tourney

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
AP Source: Trump advances in Bills sale process

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Mudcats get 15-7 win in Auburn Classic

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
Phelps to compete in 4 events at US nationals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Derrick Brooks set standard for NFL linebackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

Daimler launches new version of tiny Smart car

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Iliad of France makes surprise bid for T-Mobile US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

In San Francisco real estate, $1M won’t buy much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Facebook’s Internet.org expands in Zambia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Debit overdraft fees often exceed cost of purchase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
Panasonic, Tesla to build big US battery plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

SeaWorld, Southwest Airlines ending partnership

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Target taps outsider as CEO for needed shakeup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9