February 17, 2015 — By Crystal Bedoya – Arizona Daily Star — Crystal Bedoya is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
An overcast and slightly wet Sunday afternoon didn’t stop the residents of Nogales, Ariz., and a brass band from its sister city across the border, from celebrating a century-old historical landmark.
The Pimería Alta Historical Society and Museum hosted the 100th anniversary of the Old City Hall at 136 N. Grand Ave.
Museum director Teresa Leal spoke about the importance the building has had throughout decades since it has maintained human history as well as having history of its own.
“This museum has incredible history,” Leal said.
At one point, during World War II, the second floor was used as a censorship room, Leal said.
A time capsule originally placed in the building’s cornerstone was opened on Nov. 19. Its contents, an assortment of important documents from the fire department, City Hall and the U.S.S. Silver Service were displayed during the event.
The U.S.S. Silver Service consists of 59 distinct pieces of silverware donated to the U.S.S. Arizona by the state’s citizens in 1919 and now displayed at the Capitol Museum, according to the museum website.
There were newspaper stories from the now-gone Tucson Citizen, the Nogales Daily Herald, firefighter badges and photographs of former volunteer firefighters.
Nogales Mayor John Doyle spoke about the families that form part of the border community throughout the years.
“They’ve all been a contribution,” he said.
The building once housed the offices of the mayor, the Fire Department and sheriff, along with two jail cells. It wasn’t until 1979 that the Historical Society made the Old City Hall its home.
In the last two years, renovations were completed on two sections of the building: the second-floor balcony and the Seth Thomas tower clock.
Gildardo León, a museum volunteer, spoke about the importance of the museum to the city, especially to its youth.
The Historical Society and Museum offer free children’s summer classes in general history and art. The museum provides opportunities for Nogales residents to create a direct connection to their past and ancestors, Leon said.
Raúl Saba, retired professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona, attended the event. Saba’s grandfather, aunts and uncles formed part of the history of Nogales.
“It’s important because the museum is preserving a lot of the history and the culture. It brings together the two cultures,” Saba said. “In a sense it kind of shows that Nogales was really one city.”