Santa Monica constructed its first independent city hall at the southwest corner of 4th and Oregon (Santa Monica Boulevard), at a site that was then just east of downtown’s main commercial core. Choosing the Mission Revival architectural style, it featured massive brick walls covered with stucco, arcades, arched windows, elevated scalloped parapets, and a corner tower. This style was extremely popular in California from c. 1890 to c. 1915, and was prevalent in many institutional buildings, schools and railway stations.
Born from nostalgia for California’s mission-era heritage, and based on the Franciscan missions, it reflected the intention to create architecture specifically relevant for California. This architectural style went hand-in-hand with a new preservation movement to restore the California missions.
Very few examples survive today of Mission Revival architecture, although it was quite prevalent in the early 1900s. Santa Monica’s library shared space in City Hall, and a notorious dungeon-like jail was located in the basement that drew indignant protests from female civic leaders who demanded better conditions for the city’s prison population. Later a new jail adjacent to City Hall was built by Henry Hollwedel.
The building was demolished in the late 1930’s. S. H. Kress & Co bought the property and erected a new store to replace the store on 3rd street. This building has since been demolished for new development, but the 3rd Street building survives and is featured on the Conservancy Downtown Walking Tour.