Old City Hall At Risk
Celebrated as a modern marvel when it opened in 1958, San Jose's old City Hall was one of the first International Style civic buildings constructed on the West Coast and a groundbreaking example of glass curtain wall construction. It survives today as an iconic symbol of the city's 20th-century suburban expansion and one of the most significant midcentury modern buildings in San Jose, eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and cultural significance.
Unfortunately, Old City Hall has been vacant since 2005, when the new downtown City Hall was completed. In 2011, it was given to Santa Clara County to satisfy unpaid redevelopment debts. Now the County intends to demolish the building, citing ongoing maintenance and security costs. They currently have no plans for the site, which could remain a vacant lot for years.
What You Can Do
Because the building is now County-owned property, the City of San Jose has no authority to prevent its demolition. Instead, its fate lies entirely in the hands of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, which is expected to vote on a demolition permit in December 2020. An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has determined that the preservation of the building is an environmentally superior alternative to demolition, and PAC*SJ strongly urges the County to reconsider the benefits of adaptively reusing the building for offices, housing, or other uses. Public comments on the Draft EIR are being accepted through November 9, 2020 by emailing Emily.F.Chen@faf.sccgov.org. A series of public meetings will also be scheduled in November and December. Please let your County Supervisors know that demolition of this iconic landmark is shortsighted and unnecessary!
San José Public Library, California Room, Historic Postcard Collection
Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, Arnold Del Carlo Collection
Midcentury Modernism in San Jose
Public Meetings and Comment Periods
December 15, 2020: Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Meeting