Then & Now

Photo courtesy George Rogers Collection

Photo courtesy George Rogers Collection

 

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

The old postcard view of the Kearny Town Hall is undated, but it had to be taken before June 9, 1913 (we’ll explain in a moment). The building was constructed in 1909 for an estimated $65,000. Its crowning glory was the tall tower/cupola, bearing stone urns and a clock on each side and capped by a small metal dome and spire, referred to by locals as ‘The Oil Can.’ (Look closely at the very top and see the resemblance.) A 1910 architectural journal called the tower ‘especially interesting as it is strongly reminiscent of colonial work.’ As recorded in a 1984 history of the building by Town Historian Jessie M. Hipp: ‘(On) June 9, 1913, the Town Hall’s tower and spire met with disaster when struck by a bolt of lightning, causing severe damage to stone work on the tower, even cracking plaster in the offi ce of Police Chief William Tolen in the Hall basement. Newspaper accounts said . . . Superintendent of Fire Alarms George Smack, Mayor Louis Brock and his son, Louis Jr., Town Clerk William Ross and Street Commissioner Durkin were in the tower making an inspection when the bolt struck. Though stunned, none suffered any harm. For public safety, the damaged tower and spire were removed . . . leaving the appearance of Kearny Town Hall as it is today.’ And aside from the landscaping and the addition, it still looks basically the same.

– Karen Zautyk

The Observer Staff