Pieces of Eau Claire’s past were rediscovered as city employees packed up their offices at City Hall for temporary relocation to a building on the north side.
City Manager Dale Peters said some of the items will be put back in service or preserved because of their significance to Eau Claire.
“There’s historic value to the original artifact,” he said.
A 1903 dedication plaque for the old Carnegie Library, which is part of the current City Hall complex, was found and will be added to the building after a yearlong renovation project is done.
A large bell clapper — which had occasionally gotten misplaced through the years — was found in the pre-move cleaning. That’ll go back to the historic fire bell that used to stand next to City Hall, but has since moved to Fire Station No. 5 on Patton Street.
A box of 8½” x 11” photos of old meetings in City Hall came in handy. Those were turned over to contractors working on the City Hall renovation as a guide to how to restore the building’s original interior look before energy-efficiency projects in the late 1970s concealed much of it.
Other artifacts provided a look into formative eras in the city’s past.
A 1942 long-range city planning document began with: “The number one order of the day is to win the war.” The plan generally gave ideas for public works projects that will be needed after U.S. wins World War II and soldiers return home to Eau Claire.
A deck of aging photos showed uprooted mature trees and other damage done by the infamous July 1980 windstorm that devastated Eau Claire.
Some of the artifacts show how tools of the trade have changed in the decades.
A ruler engraved with the alphabet was used in concert with a metal piece that held a pencil so engineers could make perfectly standard letters when drawing up plans. Computers have been able to do that for years now.
Original plans for numerous old city streets are rolled up in scrolls made of canvas. One of the durable documents was a 1904 diagram for the original construction of Bellinger Street. Again, these plans would be produced in a computer these days.
Other finds included ceremonial brass keys to the city, surveying tools, an empty commemorative beer can, a glass brick commemorating the life of London Square Mall and a statuette of trolls, which was a gift from a Norwegian delegation that visited Eau Claire in 1985.
The city doesn’t expect to keep everything found by workers cleaning out the nooks and crannies of City Hall.
Some things are entirely obsolete. A box of audio recordings of city meetings from the 1960s is on reels of magnetic tape and other media that can only be played on devices the city no longer has. A manual on worker’s compensation rates from 1934 may be interesting, but is rather outdated.
For the items the city doesn’t plan to keep, Peters said they will be offered up to local historical groups.