Downtown Historic District
It was the year 1930, and J.A. Nelson was elected Mayor. Trustees were J.W. McHugh, L.S. Hyner, J.H. Rhodes, Morris Reinberg and Marshall Bond.
In that same year, the Council voted to build a 1,000 sq’ brick building to house the fire engine, jail cell, mayor’s office and council meeting room at a cost of $4,200.00. The Old Town Hall was constructed using poured concrete and was completed in 1931 for Zachary’s Office & Jail. A few years later, the Public Library moved in.
The technique was somewhat new on the scene, and it presented a substantial appearance in the center of the Zachary business district. In 1903, a devastating fire in downtown Zachary destroyed the old wooden Town Hall, and it was 28 years before the old seat of government was replaced by this new governmental building.
The Mayor wore a hat to match each function - he collected traffic fines and utility bills, was an integral part of the volunteer fire department, and the head of local government. The Zachary volunteer fire department was established the same year the old Town Hall was completed.
The Old Town Hall was built next to a Pump Station, which has now been removed. Once they had lost the town, they decided they had to have a water system. In July 1932, the town council voted to spend $5,600 for a new fire engine for the fire department. “When the town Hall was built, men still had to push the Fire Engine. (Montegudo)
Gordon Stilly in 1943, served on the volunteer fire department for more than a decade. “If there was a fire, someone would call the Mayor’s Office,” Stilly said. “There was big siren on top of the building. He would turn it on”.
“Charlie Fonte, who worked at the Ford garage across the street, was always the first to get to the Town Hall. Charlie Fonte ran everything.” Stilly said. “He wanted to be the one who knew how to do the truck and everything.” Fonte would jump in the fire engine and race to the fire. “If we were lucky to get there before he left, we’d ride with him”, Stilly said. “Otherwise we’d drive ourselves”. Someone would write the exact location of the fire on the blackboard in the Town Hall. Later arriving volunteers would then know where to go.
Today the building is home to a large collection of information about local people and places and houses the original Council table where the aldermen met monthly. It is home to a significant collection of antique books, reminding us of the lending libraries of those days before every community had a real library! The Old Town Hall is presently being renovated as a city museum and archives.