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City Hall Prepares For Makeover

Annapolis' City Hall Restoration Committee picked out gold and gray paint colors as part of its plan to give Council Chambers a facelift.

Annapolis City Hall will soon turn back the clock to the 1930s, at least aesthetically.

The City Hall Restoration Committee, led by the Rev. Johnny Calhoun and Alderwoman Classie Hoyle (D-3rd Ward), moved forward with its renovation plans for Council Chambers and the lobby at its second meeting.

New Paint

Catherine Masek, a historic preservation consultant, carved into City Hall's walls and took more than 19 plaster samples in recent weeks to determine what paint colors were used during the 1930s. 

She found that "the wall above the chair rail, including the window frames and sashes, was in a color called monarch gold, and the wall below chair rail and door frames was a millstone gray."

The committee liked the color scheme and agreed to paint swatches on a section of the chamber wall within the next few weeks. The plan is to ask Annapolitans to weigh in on the color scheme once the sample wall is painted.

Remove Existing Artwork

The committee unanimously decided to recommend the removal of all the existing artwork from Council chambers except the list of mayors of Annapolis on the east wall. 

Some of the artwork—like the city's flag—could potentially be relocated to the lobby.

Jean Russo, a member from Historic Annapolis Foundation, said that most of the artwork in the Council chambers is either historically inaccurate, or it's confusing to people who enter.

"This is not the charter for the city of Annapolis. It should just come down and go away," Russo said. "Historically these weren’t here in the 1930s."

Kann Partners architect Katherine Good seconded the recommendation, saying that the "frames" created by decorative molding were not designed to hold artwork.

Annapolis' Public Works Director David Jarrell recognized that the committee's decision could be controversial. He said, "I think we will need Council’s approval."

Alderwoman Classie Hoyle (D-3rd Ward) said, "I think if we decided that we wanted historic, I don’t think we would have a problem."

Improve Lighting

Hoyle said she would like to see the lights fixed outside the entrance to City Hall because she gets a lot of complaints about how dark the entrance is at night.

Mimi Giguere, an architect at Kann Partners, recommended looking into a timer for the outdoor lights rather than relying on the last person to leave.

Technology

The sounds system will remain the same, but the committee wants to a few more microphones. The cameras around the room will also be replaced by smaller, sleeker models.

The biggest changes will be two, 55-inch flat-screen televisions that will fold out from the walls on the sides of the chamber, and a projection screen that can be hidden when not in use.

Refinish Floors

Jarrell said the plan is to replace the existing carpet up to the dais where City Council sits. For the dais itself, the committee is looking at restoring the hardwood floors.

The problem is that the floors are covered with carpet glue.

"The carpet guy seems to think to could be salvaged," Good said "I think it could be cleaned up and finished." 

The group opted against restoring the hardwood floors for the entire chamber due to the cost and the potential for echo.

Install Signs

One of the big discussions at the committee meeting was the need for signs that will help visitors navigate City Hall. 

Giguere said, "Way finding is a big issue in this building. For a citizen coming in here for the first time for a meeting or something like that, getting around the building is fairly difficult."

Hoyle said visitors always are asking for help finding the bathroom. 

The committee favored a sign system that uses arrows, and it decided to have Giguere and Good move forward with plans to discuss pricing with vendors.

Exhibit on John Chambers

The conference desk by the entrance to Council chambers will be removed. It will be replaced by an exhibit honoring former Annapolis Mayor John Chambers, who was the city's first and only African-American mayor.

Hoyle is working with Chamber's family to collect memorabilia from his life and his time in public office.

Timeline

The goal is to make a formal presentation to City Council at a work session scheduled for Sept. 20.

Giguere said the committee has until the end of October to finalize plans in order to ensure it can find a contractor by January 2013.

The next meeting will be Aug. 23 at 3 p.m. in Council Chambers.

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