Community Buildings and Places – Government

For the next several weeks, we’re going to talk about buildings and places in the community. All cities and towns in the United States have some of these places. This week, we’re going to talk about government buildings and what happens there.

City/Town Hall

Every city and town needs a place for the local government workers to work. A city hall or town hall might contain offices for the mayor (the head of government in a city or town) and other government officials, and it may have a space where the city or town council can meet. This council is a group of people who make decisions for a community. They decide which projects are the most important. These projects could be parks, playgrounds, sidewalks, new buildings, libraries, garbage collection, street lights, or many other things. A large city or town hall could have an auditorium where members of the community can come for meetings. At these meetings, community members can talk about problems in their neighborhoods or projects they want to do to improve their community.

Municipal Building

photo by WTCC instructor

photo by WTCC instructor

A municipal building is similar to a town hall, but it probably does not have an auditorium for town meetings. It probably only has offices and rooms for small groups, like the town council, to meet. Raleigh’s municipal building is called the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex. It holds offices for city government administration, and Raleigh’s city council meets there. The building was named after a former mayor of Raleigh. It is located on Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh.

Courthouse

By Daderot (I took this photograph.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


A courthouse is a government building for a county (not a city). All kinds of “legal” things happen there. You will probably need to go to the courthouse if:

  • you are arrested.
  • you take legal action against someone (or someone takes legal action against you).
  • you want to get married.
  • you want to get divorced.
  • you want to adopt a child.
  • you want to register a business.
  • you are called to jury duty.
  • you get a traffic ticket.

Judges and some kinds of lawyers have offices at the courthouse.

Capitol Building

By Jim Bowen from Fort Worth, US [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Because Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina, it has state government buildings in addition to city and county government buildings. The NC Capitol is located in downtown Raleigh. Many years ago, North Carolina’s General Assembly (law-makers) met in this building. Now, the governor, Pat McCrory, and lieutenant governor, Dan Forest, have their offices here. A governor is the head official of a state. A lieutenant governor is the person who will become the governor if the governor dies or cannot continue in his/her office. The United States has a president and a vice president. North Carolina has a governor and a lieutenant governor.

Legislative Building

By Abbylabar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


As the population of NC grew, we needed more representatives in our state government. We needed more people to represent us, more people to make laws for us. These people make up the General Assembly. They used to have their meetings in the Capitol Building, but now there are too many of them for that space, so they meet in the Legislative Building, which is also in downtown Raleigh.

Your Turn

Can you answer these questions from this post?

  1. What is the difference between a town hall and a municipal building?
  2. What is a city council? What does it do?
  3. Where does Raleigh’s city council meet?
  4. Name three reasons you might go to the county courthouse.
  5. Name two state government buildings.
  6. Where does the NC General Assembly meet?
  7. Who is Pat McCrory, and where is his office?
  8. Who is NC’s lieutenant governor?
  9. Where is the NC Legislative Building?
  10. What happens in the Legislative Building?

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