Tiny Independence boasts an impressive brick municipal building, its spire visible for miles around. When the cornerstone was laid in 1902, this mostly Polish American town had only five hundred residents, but they had voted overwhelmingly to build a city hall that would convey prestige and prosperity. When a tornado demolished the second floor a few months after the building opened in 1903, it took three years to restore it and complete the clock tower and interior. The building was the seat of municipal government and housed the fire and police departments, the jail, and the public library, which stocked many Polish-language books. The American Legion met in the basement, and an opera house on the second floor hosted social and community events.
The Romanesque Revival building has a quarry-faced limestone basement, round-arched windows joining the second and third floors, round-arched front entrances, a pronounced corbel table, and corner pavilions, which project slightly from the plane of the main facade. The southeast pavilion sports a pediment and a metal-shingled pyramidal cap with a blunt finial. The southwest pavilion anchors the much taller clock tower, with a boxy open belfry and a foliated frieze below. An octagonal spire, clad with metal shingles, completes the composition. Through the efforts of a local citizens’ group, the building was rehabilitated in 1997 and remains a city hall and opera house.