Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, July 22, 2002

Waverly village hall listed on national register of historic places

By Barbara Averill
MN Historical Society

As the Great Depression was winding down and World War II was just about to begin, a new center of social life opened in Waverly, a small community about 30 miles west of the Twin Cities.

A new village hall, built with the help of a popular New Deal program known as the Works Progress Administration (WPA), quickly became a magnet for town dances, church socials, wedding receptions and speeches by political figures such as Hubert Humphrey, whose home was in Waverly.

Now, more than 60 years later, the Waverly Village Hall remains an important piece of the city's core, and it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an important example Depression-era construction.

Compared with modern timetables for constructing government buildings, the Waverly Village Hall went up with amazing swiftness.

The original village hall burned down in the summer of 1938. The WPA received plans for a new building that December. Bids were let in May of 1939 and by Labor Day in 1940, Waverly residents celebrated their brand new hall with baseball games, dances and a carnival.

"The new structure is one of the most beautiful small town municipal buildings in Minnesota," said the Wright County Journal-Press.

Construction of the hall carried a $70,000 price tag. Waverly's share was $20,000.

Much of the structure is reinforced concrete, which made it easier to build with unskilled labor since the mission of the WPA was to find work for those made jobless by the Great Depression. Use of the material also kept the cost down for the federal government and Waverly.

The Waverly Village Hall is significant because it is a prime example of the "Moderne" style that is linked to many New Deal era government buildings. The hall was designed by Minneapolis architect Walter R. Dennis as a "monolithic concrete" structure.

The National Registry of Historic Places includes buildings, structures, sites, districts, and objects throughout Minnesota. Properties are listed on the National Register because of their association with significant persons and events, because of their architectural or engineering significance, or because they contain important information.

Listing on the National Register recognizes that properties are worthy of preservation. Certain properties also may be eligible for federal tax benefits and grant funds.

The National Register is maintained by the National Park Service and is administered in Minnesota by the State Historic Preservation Office at the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

For information about the national register or to learn more about historic preservation in Minnesota, call (651) 296-5434.

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