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City-County Building ca. 1975
By Randy Harter
Fort Wayne Reader
Fort Wayne’s original “City Building” is the sandstone Richardsonian Romanesque structure designed by the local architects Wing & Mahurin completed in 1893 at the southeast corner of Barr and Berry and now occupied by the History Center. In July of 1965 then Mayor Harold S. Zeis working in conjunction with the Allen County Commissioners, announced that as part of downtown renewal, a new jointly operated “City-County Building” complex would be constructed at 1 East Main Street between Calhoun and Clinton Streets. Designed by the local firm of Strauss Associates, Inc. with Hagerman Construction as the general contractor, ground was broken in the fall of 1968 for the nearly two block square project, and the cornerstone then laid in 1969. At 217,000 square feet with 10 stories above ground, the precast-concrete building was completed in September 1971.
Moving forward 33 years to 2004, Mayor Graham Richard proposed moving the now cramped City of Fort Wayne offices — which were by then in several locations (in addition to the City-County Building) — into the old Wolf & Dessauer/Renaissance Square building that had been constructed in 1959 on the block bounded by Clinton, Wayne, Barr and Berry. It would be Mayor Tom Henry that would later revive the idea and relocate city government the two blocks to that location. Henry had directed the city to purchase the building for $7.3M in 2009, which after a $10M extensive remodeling project and naming contest that received national attention due to a playful and winning “Harry Baals” fan base despite of which it opened instead as Citizens Square in June of 2011, 40 years after having first occupied the then new City-County Building in 1971. The City-County Building on Main Street was then renamed the Edwin J. Rousseau Centre in 2012 in memory of longtime city and county council office holder Ed Rousseau. (Image courtesy ACPL)
Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne historian, author, and tour guide for Fort Wayne Food Tours.