The Bauska City Hall
History of City Hall
Construction of City Hall began in 1616. The building was described as an ornate structure financed by the mayor and members of the City Council of Bauska. We do not know when construction ended, but documents from the first half of the 17th century offer a bit of information about construction or repairs. Archaeological examination of the building led to the discovery that its structure includes an older one – story building with a traditional three – segment design. In 1616, the old building was extended to the East by 12 feet, and a second floor and a tower were installed. A first floor arcade was installed in the elongated part of the building. On the first floor of City Hall were the official weighs of the city, along with a flat for the servant of the council and a foyer with a stairwell to the second floor. On the second floor was a nearly square meeting room for the City Council, with large windows on three sides and a door in the fourth wall.
Judging from documents from 1840, City Hall had several stoves and two large fireplaces which may have been carved of stone. Decorative reliefs and glazed pottery tiles were used to decorate the stoves, and these were found during an archaeological dig at the eastern corner of the building.
Elements of Renaissance design in the architecture of City Hall include horizontal coverings. A large segment of an ornately carved and painted ceiling beam was found at the building at Plūdoņa Street 26, and the fact is that it is quite a bit older than the structure itself, dating back to the 17th century. It is quite possible that the beam was installed to shore up the attic of the building in the 19th century, when the second floor of City Hall was torn down and the building materials were all sold off at auction. There were two wooden staircases inside City Hall, and they were made of carved wood so that they resembled the furnishings of the building and served for decorative purposes, as well. The floors on the second floor were made of board, and they were usually waxed. The meeting room probably had a large table, several benches and chests to hold the council’s documents, jewels and monies. Portraits of the rulers of the Duchy of Kurzeme were on the walls.
By the 18th century, City Hall had been rebuilt several times. The gallery on the eastern end was rebuilt into three small rooms where fire-fighters kept their equipment. The main entrance was rebuilt, and a new entrance on the southern end of the building was installed with a window alongside it. In 1852, the City Council approved the tearing town of the building’s tower, because it was in terrible shape and near collapse. A fundraising drive was launched to raise funds for the construction of a new city hall. Architect Otto Dietze prepared the design for the building, but it soon became clear that his plans would be too expensive. Instead, the existing City Hall was rebuilt after a design by the same architect. The second floor was removed, and the structure no longer really resembled a proper City Hall. Some of the rooms were used by fire-fighters, and shops were installed in the others.
The eastern end of City Hall was torn down in the 1970s, and the “Mūsa” cafeteria was built instead. In 1988, the Restoration Institute conducted and archaeological, historical and architectural study of the building, and the architect Irena Bakule designed a reconstruction project for it. The cafeteria was torn down in 2002 so that archaeological digging could be done at the eastern end of City Hall. Reconstruction of the building began in 2010. The massive reconstruction work is scheduled to be completed at the beginning of 2012, and City Hall will once again regain its historical appearance and become the oldest restored city hall in Latvia. There will be a viewing platform from the tower, an exhibition called “Weigh and Measure in Bauska,” and a new home for the Bauska Tourism Information Centre.
The massive reconstruction work was completed in 2011. The City Hall regained its historical appearance with the Renaissance-style interior, unique ceiling paintings, the stone fountain on the facade and the clock on tower after a major reconstruction. There is a viewing platform from the tower, an exhibition called “Weigh and Measure in Bauska”, and a new home for the Bauska Tourism Information Centre.