Editor’s Note — The historical content of this story came from the Galvaland magazine published by George Swank from 1958 to 1996.
A lot of history tumbled to the ground Monday, May 13 when the former Galva Police Station building was demolished.
Mayor Rich Volkert said at the demolition scene that city officials hired Bell Trucking of Galva to take down the structure, which had been in disrepair for several years. Volkert added that Bell Trucking subcontracted the job, and the structure was taken down in one day. The city did not put the job out for bid because it was under $20,000, Volkert said.
The contents will be hauled to the landfill and the city will keep the bricks.
The building was constructed in 1905 by JA Miller and completed in 1906. The total cost of the structure was $4,123. The police station (jail) has provided housing for many more “knights of the road” (transients, tramps or hobos) than it ever has prisoners.
The peak lodging load was recorded during the depression of the 1930s when 1,583 stayed during 1933 (253 in March). In 1936 15-20 transients made their home there for the duration of a record cold wave. Some stayed from December to late February. It was once referred to as the “best heated jail this side of Chicago.”
The city was very kind to these men, as they provided them with two to three bushels of coal per day to heat the cell room. It was said the cell was several degrees warmer than most hotel rooms. Steel bunks were in the three cells. Some preferred to sleep on the floor on old newspapers. It was said they stuffed old papers around the door to keep all drafts out. It was noted that they didn't like it when the police officers came through the door and made a draft for them.
Food was collected at the back doors of Galva residences and restaurants. There were cooking utensils for them to prepare the meals on the stove.
City officials once wondered with the men getting such good consideration here, maybe they could get out and do some snow shoveling to help clear the city walks and streets. The men also washed their clothes and hung them over a rope which was near the red-hot stove.
Galva's police station is now on Front Street where the former city hall was which is in the front of the fire station. City hall moved to the former F.U. White School.