NOVATO (KGO) -- Take one glance at Novato's City Hall and you'll immediately understand why the building is a local landmark.
The crimson municipal building along De Long Ave. was a former Presbyterian church that was built in 1896. In 1960, the church sold the historic building to the city of Novato so it could be transformed from a house of worship to a gathering place for local government.
"It's really a piece of history," former Novato Mayor and city councilmember Jeanne MacLeamy said. "There are a few other historic city halls in the Bay Area, but this one was built so much by community input. It really became the heart and soul of Novato."
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The building was painted white until 1990, MacLeamy, who is also a registered architect, said. That's when the city council painted the building a dark red color, a tip of the hat to Novato's roots as a pioneer city.
Newer buildings that comprise the civic center area are painted the same crimson color giving government buildings a unified look.
MacLeamy said there's a big effort underway to restore the Novato Community House next door and transform the historic landmark into a community center where residents can take in live theater and forge stronger bonds with one another.
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"It's so important for cities to have an identity and to have a place to be and to come and to relate to, MacLeamy said. "Novato is a real hometown, and it feels like a place you want to come home to."
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