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Former Federal Building, Hannibal

Now known as the Federal Building, this magnificent Second Empire masterpiece designed by Mifflin E. Bell was completed in 1888 and once functioned as a post office and federal courthouse for a now disbanded circuit.

Typical of the Victorian Period, it is intentionally asymmetrically picturesque, with a tower on one side breaking up the composition of the front facade.

The architectural style, popularized by the reign of Napoleon III, the “second empire” of the Bonaparte Family (Napolean II, the son of Napoleon, was technically emperor from June 22 to July 7, 1815, if you’ve ever wondered what happened to him), has its roots in the architects of Louis XIV, Charles Le Brun, Louis Mansart, and Jules Hardouin-Mansart.

Ultimately, much of those architects were inspired by the architecture of Michelangelo in the San Lorenzo complex, which I’ve talked about before.

I get the impression that the City of Hannibal is trying to find a use for this building; it is beautiful, but I’m sure there are all sorts of “surprises” waiting for anyone wanting to renovate the building: old wiring, lead pipes, asbestos, etc.

But it will be worth the time and effort, and an exceptional adaptive reuse will come out of it. I think it would make a great hotel or maybe a new city hall.

The volutes around this window are a great example of the Italian influence.

The urban fabric around the building is well preserved, without acres of worthless parking.

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