|Littleton's Town Hall, c. 1920|
The historic Littleton Town Hall stands in the middle of Littleton's four-block Main Street and provides the focal point of its downtown area. A bond issue was approved in April 1919 to fund the project at 2450 West Main Street. It replaced the town hall purchased by the city in 1898 on the same site. In 1902 the city had added a brick extension to bring the building up to the front sidewalk and rented the new space to county officials. The public library was also housed in rooms in the front of the brick addition.
The building now at 2450 West Main was constructed in 1920 and served as the seat of local government and as a community gathering place from then until 1977, when the Littleton Center was built at 2255 West Berry Avenue.
Jules Jacques Benois Benedict was the chosen architect. He had designed the city's Carnegie Public Library in 1916, and, because of the beautiful work he had done on that building, it was felt that he would, as a Littleton resident, work hard to make the town hall an architecturally distinctive structure. He was commissioned to design a multi-purpose building with a dominating facade that also expressed the town's development during the sixty years prior to its construction. The features which he designed "suggested aspiration, purpose, and action."
|Town Hall, c. 1920|
The flamboyant Benedict was by then one of the foremost architects of the West. He was renowned for his period architecture and fine attention to detail. He had been greatly influenced by this education at the Beaux-Arts School of Architecture in Paris. Town Hall is an Italian Renaissance revival design, popular during the early 20th century. The building is clad in architectural terra cotta with two types being utilized, a smooth face to resemble stone and one with a rougher face. Projecting piers from the building support a decorative tile hipped roof. The primary roof is flat and invisible from the street. The triple-arched arcade is the dominant feature of the facade and gives the building its Italian Renaissance feel. Originally the doors were set back into the building, leaving the arcade open. However, the pointed style of the arch is actually more representative of the Gothic Revival, also popular during this period in history. It was common practice of architects to combine attributes of different styles of architecture to achieve the desired esthetic effect.
|Arch detail, Town Hall, c. 2003.|
The second story boasts beautifully molded terra cotta in seven horizontal bands. Eagles, common to Colorado, appear over the lancet points of the windows. The state flower, the columbine, is found in the seven bands. Again, the windows represent the combination of the Italian Renaissance and Gothic Revival styles.
Benedict was considered a highly practical architect and was aware of the constraints upon the City's budget. He obtained the terra cotta at cost from the Denver Terra Cotta Company, who also sent men to oversee its installation free of charge. The exterior cast iron lamps were made and donated by Benedict himself. The originals still hang on the building today.
The first floor housed the city offices and council chambers, as well as the town's fire truck. The truck was able to pass in and out through one of the arches. A slanting floor was installed (which still exists) so that when the truck was washed, the water ran through the doors and into the street. The entire second story was an assembly hall. Also in the building were the police department and the city jail, although the jail may have been a detached building at the rear. When completed, the building was described as the finest architectural example in the country of a town hall for a small community.
The original hall was designed for a town of 1,600. Major remodelings in the 1950s and 1960s partitioned both floors for needed office space. The arcade on the ground floor was enclosed with stucco and glass. In 1972 the city recognized the building as one of the community's most significant structures and designated it an historic landmark. In 1980 it was included on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1983 it was under long-term lease by the non-profit Littleton Center for the Cultural Arts who restored the exterior of the building and once again opened up the interior spaces. The first floor became a general entry and receiving room, offices, and work space. Vintage marble from the Daniels and Fisher building in downtown Denver was used to border new burgundy carpeting. The arcade was reopened and fitted with glass doors to provide a direct view into the lobby with its handsome staircases. The second floor, originally designed as a gathering place for meetings and community events, was restored to that use as contemporary theater space. The building became known as the Town Hall Arts Center with an active schedule of a variety of events.
|The rear of Town Hall during rehab of 1982.|
Renovation of the theater area in 1997 reconfigured the seating from a three-quarter round into a more proscenium arrangement. The cast iron and wood seats, which came from an old theater in Montana for the remodeling in 1983, were refinished and reupholstered. Aisle lighting and a new stage floor were also installed.
The overpowering theme of the building has been its durability. In 1920 the architect and local residents said it would last for fifty years. In 1997, at seventy-seven years, it is restored and preserved, and continues to serve the community.
Gardinier, Vaughn. 6127 South Lakeview Street, Littleton, Colo. Telephone interview, July 1997.
Littleton Historical Museum. "City Boards and Programs: Historical Preservation Board. Town Hall, 2450 West Main Street." Littleton, Colo.: The Museum, 1992.
Littleton Historical Museum. Photographic Archives.
Littleton Historical Museum. Vertical File: "Town Hall, 2450 West Main Street."
Littleton (Colo.) Independent. The Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888- .
Lobato, Rudolph. An Architectural and Historical Building Survey: Inventory and Evaluation, Littleton, Colorado. Littleton, Colo.:
The Littleton Area Historical Museum, 1972.
Nippert, Stephen. An Architectural and Historical Building Survey: Inventory and Evaluation, Littleton, Colorado. Phase II. Littleton, Colo.: Littleton Historical Museum, 1973.
Frickel, Artha Pacha. Biographical sketch of Jules Jacques Benois Benedict in Thomas J. Noel and Barbara Norgren, Denver, The City Beautiful and Its Architects, 1893-1941. Denver, Colo.: Historic Denver, Inc., 1987.
Young, Carol. 6463 South Prince Street, Littleton, Colo. Telephone interview, July, 1997.
Arapahoe County Assessor Records
"Littleton Town Hall," National Register of Historic Places form, 1980
Waring, Houstoun, "Hous’s Littleton", (Littleton: Littleton Independent, 1981),
"American Builder," October 1923
Noel, Thomas and Norgren, Barbara, "Denver: The City Beautiful" (Denver: Historic Denver, Inc. 1987)
Littleton Independent, 22 July 1938
Taylor, Cary M., "The Architecture of J. B. Benedict," Boulder: Western Interstate Commission
for Higher Education, 1974)
Littleton Historical Museum Files
Rocky Mountain News, 21 October 1978
Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum unless otherwise noted. To order copies, contact the museum at 303-795-3950.
Compiled by Doris Farmer Hulse
Edited by Kris Christensen
Last revised December 2003