Community comes together to celebrate city hall’s 50th

by Martin McConnell

The weekend of Sept. 25 was one of celebration for the Brecksville community as it celebrated the 50th anniversary city hall and the 30th anniversary of the community center.

The community center held a 30th anniversary open house early in the afternoon, but the main event of the day was the opening of a special memory box created the year city hall was built. The memory box, which was placed in the cornerstone of city hall back in 1972 with the intention of being opened in 2022, contained several items that were presented to the community by the city’s 50th Anniversary Committee.

The celebration opened with the top 11 songs of 1971 played on a tape reel – which happened to be one of the items taken out of the memory box. The box also included a history of all churches in Brecksville, along with newspaper clippings from the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1971. The clippings detailed how former mayor Jack Hruby won a one-man mayoral race, taking the mayor’s seat in Brecksville at the age of 26.

“City Hall has been the epicenter of [Brecksville’s] growth and success,” Brecksville City Council President Laura Redinger said. “It’s really the people who have passed through this building that have accomplished great things over the past 50 years.”

The contents of the memory box ranged in scope from documents affiliated with the Brecksville area itself to international news. Included was a letter to current-day Brecksville residents from then-mayor Jack Hruby, along with the Sept. 27, 1972 edition of TIME Magazine.

“It took a long time to decide to build this building,” Mayor Jerry N. Hruby said of City Hall. “One thing about Brecksville tradition is that we take a long time, our government, as we decide what we are going to do when an issue is brought before us. … That’s the way Brecksville has always been.”

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, Hruby detailed some of the difficulties the city of Brecksville had when constructing city hall.

“The cornerstone was laid in 1971, the building should have been done pretty quickly thereafter, but the weather and a lot of different freakish things happened,” Hruby said. “Knowing Ohio weather and the winds, and the snow, the first thing that happened was [the builders’] tent blew down.”

The program’s festivities also included a brief history of city hall after it was finished, touching on the building’s unique design. The design of the facility’s city council room was inspired by Virginia’s House of Burgesses, the legislative building of Virginia in colonial times.

“Mr. Biggs felt very strongly that when it was named for the south end of town, that there was some history significance to that,” Mayor Hruby said. “The House of Burgesses was the northernmost seat of the southern government, and Brecksville was the southernmost seat of the Cuyahoga County government.”

Outside of city council meetings, the inner chambers of Brecksville City Hall have rarely, if ever, been touched by humans. Even after 50 years, most furniture in the city council chamber has remained in pristine condition.

“The furniture is all, except the [city councilman seats] up here, is all original. … The cloth material is all original,” Hruby said. “Mr. Biggs had a rule: no one could use this room but city council, for city council meetings. … It’s almost like sacred ground.”

As Brecksville city history marches on further into the 21st century, there are plans for a second memory box to be placed into the cornerstone at the city hall building. That memory box will be opened in 2072 upon celebration of the building’s 100th anniversary.

Most items are still being decided on for the second memory box as the deliberation process may take weeks. However, a video of the 50th anniversary crowd addressing the future 100th anniversary crowd will be included.

As part of the celebration, Hruby reflected on his time as mayor, and shared his predictions for the 100th anniversary of City Hall in 2072.

“I think we will continue to nurture park land, and I think we’ll continue to be the kind of community that we are today,” he predicted. “I think we’ll be like we are today. Not a lot of change, but some.” ∞

Jillian and Michael Murphy get their faces painted during city hall’s
50th anniversary celebration. Photo by J. Kananian.
The contents of a time capsule placed in city hall in 1972 were unveiled, and a new time capsule has been created for the community to open in 50 years. Photo by M. McConnell.