City Hall at 50, Aged to Perfection

It was standing-room-only at City Hall December 10 for the 50th Anniversary Re-Dedication Ceremony of the building generously given to the City by John Motley Morehead, who served as Rye’s Mayor from 1926-1930.

Published December 19, 2014 2:56 AM
3 min read

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50-thumbIt was standing-room-only at City Hall December 10 for the 50th Anniversary Re-Dedication Ceremony of the building generously given to the City by John Motley Morehead, who served as Rye’s Mayor from 1926-1930.

By Robin Jovanovich

50-1It was standing-room-only at City Hall December 10 for the 50th Anniversary Re-Dedication Ceremony of the building generously given to the City by John Motley Morehead, who served as Rye’s Mayor from 1926-1930.

The evening’s Master of Ceremonies was Mayor Joe Sack, and the supporting cast included former mayors and “future leaders” — fourth- and fifth-grade Midland, Milton, and Osborn Elementary student government representatives, who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and read quotes from community leaders at the time of the opening celebration in 1964. Among those venerable names were Rabbi Samuel Gordon of Community Synagogue, Mayors Clay Johnson and Livingston Platt, Judge Frank Johnson, and County Executive Edwin Michaelian.

50-5235Rev. Msgr. Donald Dwyer delivered the invocation, encouraging the community to continue to build up lasting relationships, work for common ground, and find joy.

Historian Paul Hicks provided listeners with a rich biography of the remarkable Mr. Morehead — engineer, World War II veteran, first elected Mayor of Rye, Union Carbide executive, Ambassador to Sweden, and philanthropist. 

50-5205As Morehead said, noted Hicks, “Money doesn’t always bring happiness, but it helps to quiet the nerves.”

Unfortunately, Morehead was unable to attend the December 5, 1964 dedication of City Hall, the building he gave $500,000 to erect. John Morehead died in January 1965. He left no descendants, but he will long be remembered.

Assemblyman Steve Otis, one of Rye’s longest-serving Mayors, declared that the celebration was about more than just a building and the generosity of one man. “Everyone cares. We are a slice of New England; we have an infinite number of not-for-profits. There is a bond to keep this town, this great small town, unique.” Otis ended with a quote from Marcia Dalphin’s “Fifty Years of Rye: 1904-1954”: “Rye is a town of hardened idealists.” 

50-5191Former Mayors John Carey (1974-1981) and Ed Grainger (1966-1973) shared stories from other decades, which many had heard before but all were glad to listen to once again.

 

Mayor Grainger’s legacy is described in Paul Hicks’ history column in Featured Stories on this site.

 

— Photos by Pedro Garcia

 

 

 

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