The renovated City Hall is an unparalleled architectural landmark in Novato. It is the most recognized building in…More town -- next to the truly strange rotating circular house next to Highway 101 and the Euro-odd former Birkenstock shoe factory north of town that reminds people of Lady Liberty's crown.
City pride swelled when the old red church at 901 Sherman was reopened in November 2009 to great fanfare. It began life as a Presbyterian church in 1896 and became City Hall in 1963, three years after the city's incorporation. But in 2004, the fire marshal red-tagged the cluster of city buildings in the Old Town area, labeling them unsafe and forcing city employees to find a new home. Since then, they have been housed at 75 Rowland Way, a privately owned commercial building between Vintage Oaks shopping center and Novato Community Hospital.
The City Council in 2007 approved plans that called for gutting the interior but preserving much of the historic look of the iconic structure. The idea was to rebuild it as a meeting place but find a permanent new home for city employees elsewhere. The building was moved temporarily about 75 feet north so a new foundation could be built, then placed on the new foundation about 12 feet north of its original location so De Long Avenue could be widened. With a high-tech makeover in and out, Novato City Hall was ready in time for the city's 50th anniversary in January 2010.
Novato City Hall is used for meetings of the City Council, Planning Commission, Design Review Commission and various other civic boards. The hall's foyer contains a display of newspaper clippings, church records and other remnants from a time capsule that was opened in 2009 (they were found waterlogged when the small box was pried open). There are two smaller rooms for storage and meetings plus a nerve center for the building's audio/video equipment. Outside, the hall is ringed by a brick patio, and many of the bricks have commemorative inscriptions sold as a fundraiser for the city. The City Green is an adjacent lawn area suited for sun-drenched lounging and open-air celebrations.
Novato City Hall is available for special event rentals. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.