LAPORTE | It cost just $56,000 to construct the building that houses LaPorte City Hall.
Those were real dollars back in 1912 when the two story Italian Renaissance style structure designed by James Knox Taylor went up originally as a post office.
LaPorte County historian Fern Eddy Schultz still recalls when the building was a post office and a social gathering place for people sending off or picking up their mail.
"It was a place for visiting," said Schultz.
Construction of the structure at Jefferson and Michigan avenues one block south of Lincolnway began in 1912 and on June 14, 1913, the move into the city's new post office began, replacing a post office that had been at the same intersection directly across the street since 1870.
Schultz said "a building boom" was going on in LaPorte at the time and it was during a period where other now historic structures went up like the former Rumely Hotel across the street.
She said mail was brought in and sorted in the area on the first floor where the city council and other government bodies now hold public meetings.
Schultz said all of the mail-related activities occurred on the main level while the second floor contained was used strictly as an area for undercover government inspectors and other security to look down making sure nothing suspicious was occurring with the mail.
"Shutters were provided so that every nook and corner was under surveillance from those points," said Schultz.
There were also offices for the postmaster and his deputy along with conveniences such as showers and a turkish bath for postal workers in the basement.
The post office in 1964 moved to its present location at 1201 Lincolnway and after the city acquired the property relocated the police station into the basement along with several other city offices a year later.
In 1970, after about a quarter million dollars worth of restoration, all city offices were housed in the building.
LaPorte has a wealth of historic structures but city hall ranks "right up there at the top" in terms of historic significance to the city.
LaPorte City Councilman Joe Mrozinske said the building itself along with its past are fascinating and by continuing to be used today helps keeps the city's heritage at the forefront.
"LaPorte's got a history and we need to keep people aware as to what has taken place so we don't forget," said Mrozinske.
Steps have been taken over the years and recently to make sure city hall lasts well into the future.
A new roof was put on in 2009 and earlier this month financing was approved for nearly two million dollars in upgrades that include a new heating and cooling system.
Mayor Blair Milo said city hall is among the many historic assets that sets LaPorte apart from other communities.
"We're fortunate in LaPorte to have a very rich history. Part of what adds to the charm of our downtown is we kept that historic nature," said Milo.