Leaders in the Berkley territory became keenly interested in becoming an incorporated village in the Spring of 1922, believing that more recognition could be received than if the district remained unincorporated. Officials advocated incorporation on the premise that it appeared to be the only practical way for this portion of the Royal Oak Township to obtain water and sewers. As a village, it would be able to bond for such necessities. In order to increase their chance of success, a campaign was organized to incorporate the Berkley territory. Strong interests continued for the plan and by November, a committee was appointed to circulate petitions in support of the proposal. On April 6, 1923, voters approved the incorporation of the Village of Berkley, Michigan, by a tally of 360 to 165 and persons were named to draft the first village charter.
The Police Department was first formed in 1923 when the village was incorporated and the first vehicles for the department were motorcycles. Later, a Model T touring car was also used. The Fire Department was established in July, 1924. Voting Precinct #1 and business matters of the village, before and after incorporation, were located and attended to in an old building near the southeast corner of Oakwood Avenue (Twelve Mile Road) and Monnier Road (Coolidge Highway). The building adjoined
an old sheet iron structure used by the Fire and Police Deparments. This structure caught fire on June 1, 1926, and buried down with the new American LaFrance fire engine, three motorcycles and fire and police call equipment inside. After the fire, a temporary site located in a garage just south of Twelve Mile Road on the west side of Kenmore Avenue was provided rent free to the village for the departments until 1928.
On September 28, 1927, Berkley Village Commissioners took action to build a new municipal building when they voted to purchase the property on Coolidge Highway and Rosemont Road. On November 3, 1927, they approved a contract for the construction of the Village Hall and also the Public Works building and water tank on Bacon Avenue for a cost of $25,070. The Village Hall building and site, including new furnishings, cost approximately $40,000. The construction of the new Berkley public building marked a milestone in the history of the village and was hailed as an important step in its future development. Dedication of the new Village Hall, Fire and Police Station was celebrated on Saturday, March 10, 1928, beginning at six o'clock. An open house was attended by hundreds of people who listened to speeches by prominent officials and guests, and later they visited the various departments and offices to learn of the functions and operations of each one. Approximately
one thousand persons visited the building during the evening and about three hundred gathered into the upstairs commission room where the dedication took place at seven o'clock. As was customary, the general contractor handed the keys of the building to the architect. At this point, the program was interrupted by the fire engine going out on its first call from the new building. It was a false alarm. The architect then presented the keys of the building to the village president who stated that the village was receiving the advantage of something that had been needed for some time and that it had outgrown its old and unsafe quarters. He accepted the building and was confident that the architects and builders had done a fine job and now the building provided the village with a necessary individuality and much needed prestige. Dancing and refreshments concluded the evening's ceremonies and congratulatory flowers were later taken to Berkley churches for their Sunday services.
The new structure contained two stories and a partial basement. It was built of face brick, heated with steam, featured all modern conveniences and, outside of the city of Pontiac, had the most modern jail in Oakland County. The first floor housed the fire engine, police cars and motorcycles, offices for police and fire chiefs, quarters for firemen and other rooms necessary for these departments. A
three compartment steel cell block to care for prisoners and the Gamewell fire and police call switchboard was also on the first floor, with batteries and other equipment installed in the basement. Entry to the offices was from Coolidge front and stairs led to the second floor where, at the top of the wide stairway, was the large room provided for the sessions of the Village Commission and the visiting public. The library was located in one end of the room. The Village Clerk and the Village Treasurer were each provided with a large general office and a private office. A vault was installed between the two departments. A room was partitioned off for the use of the village engineers, electrician, assessors, etc. The water and highway department headquarters remained at the Department of Public Works on Bacon Avenue.
The dedication of the new landmark highlighted another step in the progress of the village and the folks of the village demonstrated their civic pride by being present for such an historic occasion.
Grateful acknowledgement is hereby given to those whose renderings have been provided for the enjoyment and enlightenment of the public.