City Hall

City Hall

Built in 1875-76 in the fashionable Second Empire style, Fredericton’s City Hall is the fourth such building on this site. It was built immediately after the previous one, only eight years old, was destroyed by fire in the evening of January 25, 1875; likely the reason why this area is known as “Phoenix Square.” The present structure was designed by Saint John architects McKean & Fairweather at a cost of $32,500, and once contained a market house, police offices and jail, as well as an 810-seat opera house which was the principal entertainment venue in the City until the 1930’s. This grand space (with its horseshoe balcony still intact and in use) is now the City Council chamber. The building’s principal feature, of course, is its lofty 115-foot high clock tower, which was built to accommodate a bell for local fire alarms as well as the present clock. The four-faced clock and its mechanisms were built by Gillette and Bland of London, England at a cost of $1,748.83, and its installation was supervised by Sir Edmond Becket, an official of the Greenwich Observatory. The clock included a sundial for true Sun Time, which was used until 1902 when Standard Time became law. The original Victorian brass workings are still used and hand-wound every second day by City employees.