Tomball City Council discusses fate of old city hall

Nearly a century after it was built, one of Tomball’s oldest buildings will either be restored or demolished.

During the Nov. 7 Tomball City Council meeting, city staff and council members discussed what to do with Tomball’s first city hall.

The first city hall building was built in the 1930s at 107 N. Cherry St. and was left abandoned in the late 1990s after the current City Hall on Market Street was built in the late 1960s. Since that time, it has suffered extensive damage, according to Public Works Director David Esquivel.

Tomball’s former city hall location was built at 107 N. Cherry St. in the 1930s. Tomball’s former city hall location was built at 107 N. Cherry St. in the 1930s.[/caption]

“It’s in major need of repair,” Esquivel said. “If you look on the outside, it doesn’t look as bad. But when you look on the inside of the building itself, the roof is completely gone—it’s caved in. There’s quite a bit of mold in the building throughout.”

Earlier this year, the owners of Cisco’s Salsa Company approached the council regarding leasing the property to provide more outdoor seating for the eatery next door. At that time, council members agreed more research was needed on the building before a possible leasing agreement could be reached.

Local developer Rodney Hutson spoke during the meeting’s public comment period to protest the possible leasing, citing the historic property should not be leased to a for-profit, private company. Hutson said the property should be restored and reopened to the public as a historic site.

“It’s probably the second most historic [building] in the city; the depot is probably the first,” Hutson said. “It might take a little bit to restore it, but I think every dollar would be well spent. I think we should think about making a minipark on that site. There’s a lot of charisma there … a lot of things that you could build upon and enhance.”

Tomball Mayor Gretchen Fagan said after touring the building it was apparent that much work would be needed.

“I’ve been in this building, and it’s bad. But again it’s there, and we need to do something with it,” Fagan said. “And once we start that process, we can see how much is there and is there going to be anything we can [salvage], or do we want to demolish at that point.”

Council Member Lori Klein Quinn said because the building is historically significant, it could be valuable to the city as a public space.

“I, for one, agree with Dr. Hutson,” Klein Quinn said. “I think we need to restore this as part of our history with signs that say, ‘Original City Hall of Tomball.’ We ought to restore it to how it originally was.”

Regardless of whether the building is restored or demolished, the city is required to properly dispose of materials with mold or lead, both of which are present in the building, Esquivel said. Costs for the remediation are estimated to be about $24,800 and were approved during the meeting.

“In order for us to move forward in doing something with that building, we have spend the $24,800,” Esquivel said.

Construction start dates have not yet been announced.

By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.