Tenino City Hall Renovation Sees Restoration of ‘Heart of the City’

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After a process that took about two years, the Tenino City Hall renovation is nearing completion.

There is still some painting and finishing to be done, but for all intents and purposes, the project resembles a job well done, said Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier, who thanked Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, for his work in getting the funds allocated from the state’s capital budget.

And in a time when many construction projects end up blowing out their budgets, Fournier said the city was able to meet budgetary constraints.

“Everyone knows that construction costs, labor and materials, have skyrocketed,” he said. “Somehow we ended up with a contract for about $400,000 in a $500,000 budget. With material costs going up, that $100,000 cushion — we ended up using every bit of it.”

Tenino City Hall has actually been constructed twice.

“It was built originally in 1902 as the headquarters for the Hercules Sandstone Company in Tenino,” Fournier said. “And then in 1922, the building was moved block-by-block, stone-by-stone, from one end of town to where city hall is now standing. It’s been there since 1922.”

Now that it has been in its current place for 100 years, Fournier said there was no better time to renovate the historic building.

Before the renovation, he said folks might have noticed little things like the roof line not looking quite right, but the city didn’t really know how bad the problem was until the roof’s inspection.

“We found that portions of the roof had actually collapsed, I don’t know, like 7 or 8 inches, which is quite a bit,” Fournier said. “So we were able to raise the roof and redo the entire roof structure and really save the building.”

The city did some other structural modifications as well.

“The stonework, a lot of the mortar had worn away over the years,” Fournier said. “There were places in the building where you could see daylight, and wind would go right through between the blocks.”

Part of the work saw stonemasons re-tucking mortar in between all the stones throughout the entire building, a time-consuming effort that required a meticulous touch.

Yet Fournier’s favorite part of the renovation saw the restoration of the city council chambers to historical accuracy.

The council chambers functioned as the city library until around 1983. At that time, it was renovated into the council chambers, but as a sign of the times, it was fitted with carpet and wallpaper. 

“We put quite a bit of effort and money into the council chambers, removing the carpet from the 80s, and removing the wallpaper and false ceilings,” Fournier said. “We took it down to the original hardwood floors and built a custom dais, so it looks kind of stately where the council will sit.”

He said the effort was “kind of cool” because the old hardwood floors were probably cut from trees in and around Tenino.

The council chambers also serve as the city’s courtroom, and Fournier said the restoration makes it look like a courtroom from the 1930s.

Other work in the council chambers saw the installation of coffered ceilings and the implementation of mill work around the stonework inside the room.

“The building itself was cut from the hillsides around the city, because it’s all Tenino sandstone,” Fournier said. “Being able to renovate that, preserve that and make it where that building can be used for another 100 years, for later generations to appreciate (is great). It was done in such a way that others will think it’s the way the building has always looked.

“It’s the heart of the city. It’s the nerve center,” Fournier added.