Today, 1911 City Hall is under the direction of the Cultural Affairs Department and serves the community as a venue for traveling exhibitions from around the world, as well as regional and local artists. Many of these exhibitions are on national tour and may stop in only a dozen cities across the U.S. The Arts & Cultural Center is an anchor in the Charlestown Cultural District. The three floors of gallery space have displayed works by Picasso, Ansel Adams, Norman Rockwell, National Geographic just to name a few. Additional programming is designed to expose and engage the audience more effectively such as gallery talks, scavenger hunts, screenings, audio stations, and gallery guides. The staff welcomes approximately 15,000 visitors per year, including field trips and tour groups. Admission is free, as the City is committed to supporting and promoting public interest in arts and history for the benefit of all residents and visitors. The Charlestown Farmers’ Market takes place every Saturday from 8 a.m. – noon on Bilbo Street behind the building. On rainy days the market is moved inside.
Denise Fasske, department director, said, “We want to thank everyone that has supported our efforts at 1911 City Hall over the past decade. We strive to bring exhibits that are of artistic or historical merit, be enlightening and thought provoking, and provide a rich experience for the audience.”
The 1911 building was constructed to replace the original city hall that had been destroyed by the Great Fire of 1910. The beautiful structure features Renaissance arched windows, massive brackets, a red tiled roof, and a campanile (Italian bell tower) with a clock and bell. The building served as Lake Charles City Hall from 1911 until 1978, then as the City Court Building until 1999. In May 1999 the city leaders began a bold $2 million restoration project to update the building’s infrastructure while preserving its historic beauty. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places. In June 2004 the City of Lake Charles approved the use of the 1911 City Hall as an Arts & Cultural Center. The landscaped brick courtyard was added in 2006.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. For more information, please call 491-9147 or visit www.cityoflakecharles.com.