It was a point of controversy at the time—the location was thought to be too far from the commercial center of the town (population 3,000), then on California Street. Opponents “pointed to the county courthouse, built in 1888, as a sad example of bad planning”, the Record Searchlight wrote in 1961. “The county had made the mistake of building way up on the plains and obviously would never be in the hub of the town’s activity.”
Truly a monument to the colorful history of Redding, the Old City Hall Arts Center now serves as a central resource for the arts in Shasta County. The Shasta County Arts Council (SCAC) acts as steward of the historic Old City Hall Arts Center.
The facility houses a gallery, classroom, performance hall, green room, video production studio (media room), and offices for SCAC. It is surrounded by a small city park, and employs a bricked courtyard for receptions and gatherings.
The gallery offers professional exhibition space to local and regional artists (in Shasta, Siskiyou, Trinity, and Tehama counties), and the upstairs performance hall is perfect for intimate concerts (seating 150), workshops, and receptions.
Built in 1907, this historic building once housed the city’s offices, council chambers, and a police department. It still contains one of the original jail cells. Renovated in 1987 to coincide with Redding’s Centennial, Old City Hall received a new cupola and was redesigned to house a gallery and performing arts theater.
Old City Hall was designed by M.W. Herron and built at a cost of $10,000.
There apparently were no celebrations when the 8,400-square-foot Old City Hall was occupied in 1907. “In fact, minutes of the board meetings don’t even note when the move was made,” reads a Feb. 11, 1961, article in the Record Searchlight.
Eventually, the city council approved the building, 3 to 2, and authorized purchase of the land (on which sat the home of Dr. Sherman White) with $5,000 in gold coin. The year the building opened, the council accepted the offer of seven palm trees from the Women’s Improvement Club. Two remain today and they tower over the building. The building’s original bell and tower were removed in 1920 after clerks in the building complained that the cupola was making the roof leak.
A facsimile of the cupola was added to the building during its renovation in the late 1980s. In early 1907, the city council debated issues that sound familiar today—”deciding what to do about Redding’s inadequate sewer system and its speed laws, meaning how fast horses should be allowed to gallop down California Street,'” the Record Searchlight wrote.
The city jail on the building’s first floor featured two iron cells manufactured by a local blacksmith, said historian and Superior Court Judge Richard Eaton in a 1976 oral history.
The Shasta County Arts Council, Old City Hall facility is located at 1313 Market Street, in beautiful downtown Redding, California.