400 Claiborne Dr




City Hall and Fire House


400 Claiborne Dr Decorah, IA 52101

Year Built


Architectural Style

International Style Roof Architecture

Decorah’s Municipal Building was designed by Charles Altfillisch and Associates, Architects, in 1959 and constructed in 1960. Its contemporary design was described in local newspapers at the time as “rambling” and “ultramodern.”  The design included unusual “roof architecture,” a variation of the International Style that featured curved, angular or soaring roofs, and became popular in the mid-1950’s. In this regard, the building is similar to Altfillisch’s designs for Valders Science building on the Luther College campus, St. Benedict’s School in Decorah, and the Luther College Field House before renovations. The municipal building accommodated city business offices and the police and fire departments. City officials have the 1959 blueprints and related construction papers.

The main building was remodeled in 1974 and again in 1992. The earlier remodel included installing air conditioning and temperature control throughout the building. The city has blueprints from 1974, which were drawn up by Olson, Gray, Thompson and Lynnes, Architects. City clerk Wanda Hemeseth said in 2019 that no changes have been made to the outside of the building except the addition of the bay to the fire station. A May 17, 1983 Decorah Public Opinion article described how crowded conditions were in the garage, prompting the city fire department and the Decorah rural fire protective association to split the cost of the addition, which was completed that year. Officials have digital copies of the 1992 remodel blueprints, which were drawn up by W. Smith Architect of Winona, WI. Extensive interior changes in 1992 included the redesign of the current city council chambers.

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