Old Federal Building/Richmond City Hall

Federal Building

MAR-30
West Main Street, Richmond
1891-1895

In 1890 former governor and then congressman James B. McCreary received a petition to build a federal building in Richmond. The building contractor was Samuel Rice, a Madison County native who was elected Richmond mayor without opposition in 1909. When completed at a cost exceeding $100,000, the first floor was occupied by the U.S. Post Office, while the second floor housed government offices such as the Collector of Internal Revenues and Federal District Court. In 1970 Richmond city offices moved into the building. 

Richmond’s City Hall Building is significant as the county’s only formal example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture. The exterior of the four-story structure is faced with smooth and rusticated ashlar-cut stone from Rockcastle County. A tall tower on the left side consists of an open belfry with clock-faced dormers projecting from its steeply pitched pyramidal roof and an interior stairwell with randomly spaced, narrow vertical windows. The gable roof, also steeply pitched, contains two gable dormers on the main facade that contain ornamental copper inserts. Four engaged octagonal columns with Byzantine-like capitals extend asymmetrically across the second and third stories to support large arches. Three Romanesque arches on the first story emphasize the entrance beneath them. The finely carved stone piers with human-masked and foliated capitals represent typical features of the Romanesque Revival style. 

Inside, marble floors and wainscotted walls on the first floor lead to light oak floors and woodwork on the subsequent floors. A large courtroom, located on the third floor, still has the original brass lighting fixtures that have now been converted from natural gas to electricity. Visible from a considerable distance, the City Hall is a notable landmark.