Pierce & Bickford's Renaissance styling reached its pinnacle with the Elmira City Hall.
In 1895 the city held a competition for new municipal buildings. Eight firms submitted plans; three from Elmira, four from New York City, one from Rochester, NY. Pierce and Bickford was the preferred firm as it "most advantageously utilized the space within their proposed building." The original plan submitted was less ornate than the building we have and unfortunately the it is not recorded as to why extra funds were appropriated for the exterior trim.
While beautiful to the eye it was also engineered with what was called "slow-burning construction" or "mill construction." Risk of fire was a serious consideration and great lengths were built in to strengthen and withstand against the heat of a structure fire giving firemen time to extinguish or evacuate.
Despite the safe guards a fire in 1909 did damage the upper floor and roof but the lower sections remained unscathed. The building was repaired and remains with us to this day as an architectural fixture of the down town.
Elmira City Hall is part of the Points of Inspiration Architecture Trail. For more information and stops on the trail, visit www.pointsofinspiration.net.