On July 9, 1906, the Little Rock City Council approved Resolution 281 and Ordinance 1,295. These actions approved the plans for a new City Hall complex to be constructed on land at the northwest corner of Markham and Broadway Streets. A few days later, the contract was awarded for the construction of the new building.
Mayor Warren E. Lenon had first called for a new city hall complex in his annual address in April 1904. He repeated his request in April 1905. The City Council took up Mayor Lenon’s quest for a new city hall in December of 1905. The Council appropriated money for the purchase of land for a city hall, jail and auditorium.
In response to this, the Arkansas Gazette daily newspaper ran a story featuring the viewpoints of a few civic leaders weighing in on the need for a new city hall complex which would also include a new jail and a city auditorium. Two of the respondents, L. B. Leigh and P. Raleigh, stressed the need for paved streets and better sewers instead of a new city hall and auditorium.
The other three businessmen interviewed were more favorable to Mayor Lenon’s proposal. Morris M. Cohn, a former Little Rock City Attorney, stated “I do not think we can make a better investment than in a fine city hall and auditorium.” (Mr. Cohn, though an M. M. Cohn, was not related the M. M. Cohn who was the namesake for the longtime Little Rock department store.) County Judge William Marmaduke Kavanaugh offered his satisfaction with the action of the City Council on that matter. R. E. Walt, a banker, opined that he thought $150,000 was not enough; he suggested $200,000 should be spent.
Later that month the Gazette reported that a site had been selected for the city hall and auditorium complex. The proposed location was most of a city block located at the corner of Markham and Broadway Streets. Mayor Lenon was vague as to the details of the deal because negotiations were still underway with the property owners
As 1906 dawned, Mayor Lenon and other city leaders continued to take steps to build the new city hall and auditorium. They invited three local architects to make presentations for the chance to design the new complex. The three were Charles L. Thompson, Frank W. Gibb and George R. Mann. Mr. Thompson was chosen to receive the assignment.
On February 5, 1906, Mayor Lenon announced the creation of a special committee to work on the planning for a future city hall complex. This committee consisted of Aldermen Louis Walther, A. B. Poe, L. N. Whitcomb, Christopher Ledwidge, and John A. Adams.
Mayor Lenon further stated that the new city hall complex and several private developments would “put us in that march of progress with which nothing can prevent us from having a 100,000 population in a few years.”
The saga to get the building built was just starting.