Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Pershing, John J. (John Joseph), 1860-1948; Colgan, Murray Truman, 1879-1958; Neild, Edward F., Sr., 1884-1955; Canfil, Fred, 1885-1953; Long, Huey Pierce, 1893-1935; Goodhue, Bertram
Courthouses; County government

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, Not dated. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

County Court

House and Tax Reform Suggestion

When the County voted the bonds for a new Court House I decided to look at some of the new public buildings around the country.

Fred Canfil, who was manager of the county's public buildings, and I boarded my personally owned automobile and started on a tour of the cities with new municipal buildings. We went to Shreveport, La. and inspected the new Parish Court House. We talked to the architect, Edward F. Neild and obtained some good ideas.

Then we headed for Houston Texas, a city which was just beginning to expand. We looked at several of their new buildings and consulted an architect there whose name I've forgotten. There was nothing in Houston that appealed to us.

We then proceeded to Denver where the city and county had recently completed a beautiful building, so arranged as to cause the people who had to use it the most inconvenience.

Our next stop was Milwaukee where a new county building had been completed. The new building was about to fall down and we didn't spend much time there in Milwaukee. At Racine Wis. a new court house was being completed. It is a beautiful building and was conveniently arranged for a small county.

The next stop was Buffalo, N.Y. where a new city-county building had been recently completed. We obtained some ideas there and proceeded to Brooklyn where a splendid structure had been built, with decorations equal to ancient Greek and Roman ideas of the proper appearance of a public building.

Then we went on home.

I then went to Louisiana and looked at Hughie Long's Capitol Building for the State. I didn't like it. Then I went to Lincoln, Nebraska to see the new Capitol Building being erected for that great State.

I interviewed Mr. Goodhue the architect. He was the most egotistical man I ever met-and I've met some real ones.-He showed me the plans for the completed building and told me that history would say that there were only three orders of architecture-Greek, Gothic and Goodhue! I'd been told that there were five orders up to the time of Augustus Caesar. But Mr. Goodhue knew better.

After all these trips and interviews, the County Court employed the two good? great firms of architects in Kansas City, Keene and Simpson and Wight & Wight with Ed Neild as consulting architect.

We were lucky to obtain an honest contractor, the Swenson Construction Co. to build the Court House. I had two tough inspectors to watch the proceedings in Murray Colgan and Fred Canfil. Mr. Colgan was a building contractor himself and a first cousin of mine on my father's side. He was honest, and I knew I could trust him. Fred Canfil was a World War I veteran who had commanded the cavalry troop at Pershing's headquarters in Chaumont. He had been associated with me in the affairs of the Reserve Officers Corps and had been in the building game since his return from the war. He was afterwards made United States Marshal for Western Missouri when I became U.S. Senator and had the reputation of being the best U.S. Marshal in the country.

I not only inspected public buildings but I looked at a great many business structures. The Board of Trade Building in Chicago is a beautiful building, as is the New York Life Insurance Building in New York City. Both had been recently constructed at that time. The Sun Life building in Montreal is a very good looking building too.

I had seen many pictures of the public buildings in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The City Hall in San Francisco is one of the four or five perfect dome buildings in the country. I did not like the Los Angeles City Hall.

The building program was a success in every particular.


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