Several late 1800s architects and firms competed for this commission, but it came down to the drawings submitted by three: George King, and the firms of Kneezell & Vermehren and Stewart & Carpenter. Interestingly, Ernest Krause, arguably the busiest architect in El Paso at the time, was not invited to submit plans, even though he had designed some of El Paso's most important buildings, including the Grand Central Hotel. The commission went to Kneezell & Vermehren, who completed the building in late 1887 or early 1888 (El Paso Times, 12/31/1887). It first appears in Sanborn maps in 1888.
The building, located at the southwest corner of Santa Fe and Overland, was sold by the city to the H.P. Noakes Carraige Company in 1899. This was only eleven years after its completion, when the new City Hall on San Antonio was erected (El Paso Herald, 11/14/1899). Noakes remained in the building until sometime in 1908. Noakes Carraiges is present at the address in the 1908 Sanborn map, but missing from the City Directory - indicating that they left the building in 1908 between the publication of the two source documents. The building was demolished at that time, and the address became home to the "International Stock Yards".
It was an enchanting building, and one of the early works of one of El Paso's most important architects. Edward Kneezell went on to design El Paso's first skyscraper (today's BBVA Compass Building) and several other historic El Paso structures.
That old City Hall was a very pretty building, but stood for only 20 years before it was demolished. Why was it demolished? Because it was condemned by the City because it was supposedly poorly built. Who led the consortium that wanted it demolished? You guessed it - Ernest Krause, the architect that was not invited to the party.
|Courtesy of the El Paso History Facebook page, otherwise uncredited|