or how King William I, King William II, and Prince Albert came to grace the front of City Hall
By John B. Green III
Before New Bern was blanketed by fifty fiberglass bears during its tricentennial year of 2010, and before New Bern High School acquired its concrete Bruno the Bear mascot in 1957, New Bern could boast of three snarling, black-painted copper bears arrayed across the front of its city hall. The story of how these bears became architectural ornaments and of how the bear became the symbol of the City of New Bern follows.
|Bear above east entrance, second City Hall, photo from Die Berner Woche, 28 Oct 1939.|
The Craven Street city hall was remodeled in 1914 and at that time it was decided to give New Bern's symbol a more three dimensional representation. Accordingly, three copper bear figures, modeled on the bear on the Swiss banner, were ordered through the S.B. Parker Company of New Bern, from a firm in New York.
|Old City Hall with bears installed at second floor level, from a c. 1920 postcard.|
In 1934 the U.S. Court House and Post Office at the corner of Pollock and Craven streets was replaced by the new Federal Building constructed at 415 Middle Street. By 1935 the old court house had been acquired by the city of New Bern and refurbished as its new city hall. The three bears were removed from the façade of the Craven Street city hall and two were installed above the entrances of the new city offices.
|Second City Hall, with bears above south and east entrances, photo from Die Berner Woche, 28 Oct 1939.|
|City fire station showing bear in pediment, photo from Die Berner Woche, 28 Oct 1939.|
|Bear in pediment of city fire station, photo from Die Berner Woche, 28 Oct 1939.|