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Buildings that weren’t: Nelson city hall, 1940

Updated: Apr 4, 2018

In 1940, Nelson city council was planning to build a new city hall next door to its existing one at the foot of Ward Street. Local architect Bill Williams drew up a modernist design that looked a bit like the current Vancouver city hall on a smaller scale.

I don’t know why the proposal failed, but as a result, the city spent another 20 years in its existing building before deciding, amid much controversy, to move to the former post office at the corner of Ward and Vernon. The old city hall — which was built as the courthouse in 1893 roughly on the site of the current courthouse, then moved down the street in 1908 to become city hall — was unfortunately demolished in 1960. City offices moved into their present home in the White Building in 2006 and the old post office-turned-city-hall became Touchstones Nelson.

Below is the Williams sketch as it appeared in the Nelson Daily News on Feb. 8, 1940 and a news story from six days earlier where mayor Norman Stibbs explained the plan at a business luncheon.

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