Little Falls City Hall
Written and narrated by Sadé Gabier, Cooperstown Museum Studies Graduate Program, SUNY Oneonta, Researched in 2023.
City Hall stands out among the architecture of downtown Little Falls.
The eighty-five-foot high dome with its colored panes of glass can be seen from across the city. One of the best views of the building is from the top of Salisbury Street during sunset when the sun shines through the dome, highlighting all of the bright colored windows. It is the shining heart of the city. The building was designed in the Beaux Arts style by architect W. Neil Smith who also designed the Masonic Temple in town. Beaux Arts is an architectural style which gained popularity in America’s Golden Age as a combination of classical and Renaissance elements such as the arched windows, pilasters, and many sculptural elements on the front of the building. Included among these elements is the date stone above the door which marks the year construction began on the building, 1916; and even farther above that, a keystone with the carved face of a Native American chief, honoring the people after whom Mohawk Valley was named.
Well respected Little Falls businessman D.H. Burrell decided in 1914 that the rapidly growing city deserved a grand city hall that properly reflected the industrious community. Burrell offered to give $50,000 for the construction, an impressive sum which is equal to over 1.5 million today, on the condition that the city would match the amount. The city agreed and raised the funds. Burrell donated another generous $10,000 before construction was completed in 1918.
The outer structure is made up of granite and painted terracotta tiles, giving the illusion of an entirely stone facade. Inside the building is equally awe-inspiring as outside. The front entry opens up to two story marble columns and twin, wrapping marble staircases. The walls and ceilings are set with striking stained-glass windows, including an intricate reproduction of Profile Rock on Moss Island, a Little Falls landmark which is today a popular hiking and rock-climbing destination. This beautiful piece was gifted to the city by the family of Abram Zoller, who was the city’s mayor during the construction.
Today, City Hall still stands as a testament to the spirit and community of Little Falls.
City Hall is the home of the Common Council, Fire Department, Police Department, and other city officials. For more than a century, this building has watched over the city and its officials, weathering good times and bad.