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History of City Hall

Map of downtown Hamilton
Map of downtown Hamilton

When the Town of Hamilton was incorporated in 1833, one of the first orders of business, after a closely fought election where 3 out of the 4 candidates had no opposition (1), was to find a suitable place for the town board to meet. For the first few years they made do with meeting in local taverns, such as Thomas Wilson's inn on the corner of John and Jackson Streets (2). Mr. Wilson had no objection as he was paid quite well for the privilege of having the governing body of Hamilton in his establishment. The accounts for the town list his payment for the rental of the room as £0/7/6 in 1835 (3).

However, a tavern was not the ideal place to conduct the business of the town and in 1835 Council paid Stephenson Woods £2/15/0 for a plan of an Engine House. In 1836 they paid William Hardy £1/5/0 for drawing the specifications for this plan, contracting Scott & Biggart to build the structure. By November 25, 1835, Council had paid a total of £50/0/0 on account for the construction (4). On August 9, 1836, A. Ross & Co. was paid (£2/0/0) for painting the Engine House (5) and council soon moved in, sharing quarters with the fire department and with the cells in the basement, to conduct the city's business from this more suitable environment.