200@200 : October — To Govern and Serve
Date:
1894—1903
Title:
City Council Chambers and Courtroom: City Council Members Collage
Description:
After the Indiana state legislature approved a charter in 1840 for Fort Wayne's incorporation as a city, the town had its first formal government, providing for both a mayor and a city council of six aldermen. In addition to the authority to tax for civil improvements, the Council had the power to enact, amend, and repeal city ordinances "for the good government and order of the City and the trade and commerce thereof."

The Common Council of the City of Fort Wayne was established by a charter approved by the Indiana state legislature on February 22, 1840. This group met in Council Chambers from the opening of the City Building in 1893 until city government moved to the City—County building in 1971. The Council acts as the legislative branch of city government, as well as its policy—making body, focusing on the city's goals, major projects, and infrastructure improvements.

On March 7, 1901, the Indiana legislature passed a bill that provided the elective officers of the city shall be a municipal judge and city clerk in addition to a mayor and councilmen. The bill vested the judicial power of the city in a city court, which was established in May 1901. Fort Wayne City Court met six days a week, starting at 8:00 A.M. until it concluded its business, usually about mid—morning. Open to the public, these court sessions were a source of entertainment for many Fort Wayne citizens. Meeting in the large courtroom in the City Building (which is today the Shields Room), the City Court was in existence until 1971 when it was abolished by the legislation reorganizing the Allen Superior Court.

In February, 2011, the History Center dedicated the former City Chambers and Courtroom as the newly restored Shields Room. Most historians agree that the room was not originally this ornate; the magnificent decoration that the room now features was done around 1900. The earliest photograph of the room, taken in May 1901 to commemorate the installation of a new City Council, shows the room's walls and ceiling decorated with the design it has today. This restoration, named after James and Margaret Shields, the title supporters of the project, was begun in 2003 and completed in 2010.

As in the early days of the city, today the elected City Council officials are entrusted with the duty to provide the ways and means to ensure the safety and security of citizens of the City of Fort Wayne and work to maintain a high quality of life. This collage displays the photographs of Fort Wayne City Council members from 1894, 1898, and 1903.
Click to Enlarge
Fort Wayne City Councils 1894-1903Fort Wayne City Councils 1894-1903
Fort Wayne City Councils 1894, 1898, 1903 detailFort Wayne City Councils 1894, 1898, 1903 detail
Fort Wayne City Council 1894 detailFort Wayne City Council 1894 detail
Fort Wayne CIty Councils 1898 and 1903 detailFort Wayne CIty Councils 1898 and 1903 detail
Fort Wayne Mayor Oakley 1894Fort Wayne Mayor Oakley 1894
Fort Wayne Mayor Scherer 1898Fort Wayne Mayor Scherer 1898
Fort Wayne Mayor Berghoff 1903Fort Wayne Mayor Berghoff 1903
City Council Chamber, 1900City Council Chamber, 1900
City Court, 1959City Court, 1959