CIVIC CENTER -- The Mayor’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony turned into
an historic event Tuesday when city officials unveiled a monument
celebrating the four-year restoration of City Hall.
On a chilly December evening, Mayor Stacey Murphy unveiled the
four-foot stone monument and cut a ceremonial ribbon that stretched
across the front of the refurbished City Hall fountain.
“It’s with great pleasure that I give these gifts to the community,”
The monument includes an angled plaque noting the building’s historic
status. Completed during World War II, after two years of construction,
City Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996
because of its distinctive Art Deco architecture.
By re-christening the building, Mayor Murphy linked her name with an
earlier mayor, Walter Hinton, who dedicated it more than 55 years ago.
Despite the work already finished, the restoration is far from
complete. Early next year, extensive work will begin on the City Council
chambers. When it is completed, Burbank will have more than exceeded the
$409,000 it cost to construct the building in 1943.
The restoration began shortly after City Hall was placed on the
National Register. So far, the city’s Public Works Department has
performed about $334,000 in work to the building, said Robert Van
Hazelen, a manager in the city’s Public Works Department.
The city has replaced aging lighting fixtures, refurbished the mural
in the City Attorney’s office, installed marble floors inside the
building, repainted the interior rotunda and installed a new concrete
Also, the city restored the distinctive Art Deco fountain to its
original appearance. For that, the city has paid $28,000. However, the
plasterer who completed the work claims the job was worth $100,000. City
officials are attempting to work out a settlement.
City Councilman Bob Kramer said he was happy with the restoration.
“I think City Hall looks as good as it did 50 years ago,” Kramer said
Tuesday. “We like it and people are always happy to come to it.”
Beginning next year, the city will begin an extensive restoration of
the city council chambers, said Public Works Director Bruce Feng.
The bulk of the work will focus on the restoration of the “Four
Freedoms” mural behind the dais. City workers will also raise the ceiling
to fully uncover the mural, part of which is now hidden from view.
Feng said the city will repanel much of the wood, install new carpet
and reupholster the chairs. A wall with photos of past mayors, beginning
in 1911, will also be installed. That work will cost about $300,000.
The city will also restore City Hall’s other mural, on the bridge
leading to the Municipal Services Building. That restoration will cost
about $250,000, Van Hazelen said.
The challenge of the work, Feng said, was following National Register
guidelines for restoring the building.
Craig Bullock, chairman of the Burbank Heritage Commission, said he
the city has done a good job.
“We constantly reviewed pictures and documents that substantiated what
they were doing,” Bullock said.
The city’s attention to historical detail will pay off, Feng said.
“We want it to be in as good a shape in 50 years as it is today,” Feng
The crowd Tuesday night was definitely pleased with the work.
“The fountain is beautiful,” Burbank resident Barbara Topolovich said.
“It’s great the city restored it to its natural state.”
COMPLETED RESTORATION WORK
*Repainted interior rotunda
*Modernized lighting on rotunda ceiling
*Refurbished mural in City Attorney’s office
*Polished brass in rotunda
*Polished rotunda marble
*Polished front entrance granite
*Installed new marble in first and second floor halls
*Installed new front entrance, plaza and sidewalk concrete
*Installed new exterior handrails
PLANNED RESTORATION WORK
*Restore City Council chambers
*Restore rotunda mural