The downturn of the Great Depression was incredibly widespread, and its economic climate inevitably affected Pleasant Hill during the 1930’s. The Public Works Administration, one of the numerous New Deal programs designed to revitalize the economy and put Americans to work, funded the construction of this electric power plant, which was completed in 1939. While not the city’s first power plant, the construction of this site was a major milestone in Pleasant Hill’s electrification, reestablishing the town as a center of electric power in the region, supplying energy across the area as part of the Missouri Public Service Company.
The plant itself is one of the largest complexes in the historic district, with a multi-tiered two story design and a series of stucco and facade pieces to accentuate the brickwork. Large garage doors allowed for easy storage of service vehicles and transport for equipment, all to maintain the large diesel engines and generators that harnessed the energy necessary to power Pleasant Hill. The design stands in stark contrast to the more stately and ornamental architecture of the Green Power & Light Company plant, which had served as central power hub since 1918, and was superseded by the Municipal Plant, and also represents the commitment to forward thinking design exemplified by the PWA and Pleasant Hill as a whole during this period.
Today, Pleasant Hill’s energy needs have evolved, and in ways that the Municipal Plant can no longer fill. A natural gas powered plant now exists outside of the town, and the Municipal building was taken over by the Pleasant Hill Police Department, who now use it as their headquarters, the vehicle bay now occupied by police cruisers instead of electric service vehicles. The Municipal Power Plant is a site representing the transitory state of Pleasant Hill during the early 20th century, after the railroad boom of the turn of the century, but before the post-World War II economic redevelopment that transformed the town into what it is today. All the while, the generators of the Municipal hummed away, keeping everything running smoothly.