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History of City Hall

In 1872, an improvement to city services was proposed by improving the fire alarm system. The Market Committee was instructed to "take such steps as they may deem proper to ascertain the cost of construction and proper design of a Bell or Alarm Tower, as well as the most eligible place for the construction of the same, and generally to consider the matter and report to this Council at its next meeting" (21). The Committee proposed a "[b]ell and Clock Tower to be erected at the east end of the present Market House and that tenders be taken for 2 of the plans sent for our inspection" (22). However, one month later, Alderman Charlton amended their proposal "by substituting the Gore of King Street East side of Hughson Street, for the James Street Market. The Market Committee [was] to proceed without delay to ask for tenders for the said Bell and Clock tower according to the most suitable plans now in their possession" (23). This proposal barely passed as the council split evenly on the vote and the chairman had to vote with the amenders in order for it to pass.

Plans proceeded rapidly. By the council meeting of February 10, 1873 the resolution read: "[r]esolved that the Market Committee take all necessary steps to secure tenders upon existing plans or upon plans to be approved by them, for the construction of a Bell and Clock Tower on James Street in connection with the Eastern front of this building and that they report the cost of same the next meeting of this Council" (24). In October of that year council reported that they expressed "regret at the very slow progress being made by the Contractor for the carpentry work on the Bell Tower, but they have now some hopes of getting it completed during the present month" (25). It was suggested by some that the purpose for putting the bell tower there was to help the city hall remain standing (26). However, by 1887 it was common knowledge that the "[p]resent city hall is so out of repair that considerable expenditures upon it must be made if it be not replaced. The roof is so old and decayed that water runs through it in streams during every serious storm... the floors are worn out; the doors and windows are in bad condition" (27).