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Historic Main Street: On-line Walking Tour


Tour A

1. 381 East Main Street – City Hall

The Stoughton City Hall and Opera House (now called the Opera House – restored and reopened on its 100th anniversary) is an imposing Romanesque Revival civic building constructed of brick with stone and wood trim, resting on a Bedford stone foundation.  Red St. Louis pressed brick was used on the two side walls, while less expensive brick was used on the less important rear walls.  Typical of the Richardsonian Romanesque Revival are the projecting wall dormers and gabled pavilions, the tower on the northeast corner, paired and triple windows, heavy round arches with contrasting centered keystones and the stone ornamentation marking the upper edges of the wall dormer and the side pavilion. The new tower is an exact replica of the original, using modern materials. It is the only building of this style on Main Street in Stoughton. Mr. F. Kemp of Beloit designed the building, and Bonnett, Michie & Co. constructed it.

The City Hall is a reflection of the community’s self-image at the turn-of-the-century. Not only is the architecture impressive, but also, a six hundred seat auditorium is housed in the second story, and has a balcony in the third story.  The “up-to-date” auditorium of the new City Hall was included despite “somewhat of a sentiment against incorporating a theater into the city hall,” but since “an auditorium was the only part of the building from which any revenue might be derived, and as without it there would have been no necessity for anything except a one-story structure which would have looked somewhat squatty, the majority carried the day, and Stoughton now has one of the finest auditoriums in this section of the state.” Inclusion of an auditorium in the City Hall is unusual, but through its incorporation in the design, City Hall represents not only the community’s attitude about local government, but about culture and performing arts as well.

From 1884 to 1901, “municipal legislation” had been conducted in a building across the street, 374 East Main Street. Built in 1884, this building housed the fire-station on the first floor and the municipal (city government) offices on the second floor. In 1901 the new City Hall replaced the building as both a City Hall and an engine house.


Main Street Walking Tour   MS 10   MS 12   MS 16   MS 19   MS 22   MS 26   MS 27   MS 31   MS 33