The History of Kingston City hall
June 15, 1842, the town of Kingston publicized a competition for architects and builders for the design for a ‘Town Hall and Market’. The probable cost of construction was set at 10,000 pounds.
The design of the government architect George Browne (31 years old) was selected from the twelve submissions received from the contest.
The building was completed in December 1844, at a final cost slightly in excess of 25,000 pounds. The increased cost was due to additions and changes from the competition submission.
The original design of City Hall had a hemispherical dome with no clock faces or belfry. The belfry and clock were housed in a large square end block that originally extended the market wing all the way to King Street. The market wing end block was destroyed in a fire on January 10, 1865. The original clock that had been given jointly by John Counter and John A. Macdonald was moved to the main dome.
The architect George Browne also designed the Mowatt Building, the Victoria and Gray Trust Building, the S&R Department Store, the Presbyterian Manse and Rockwood Villa.
The Governor General Sir Charles Metcalf laid the City Hall corner stone June 5, 1843.
Past tenants of City Hall include the Market Vendors, the Board of Trade, the Post Office, the Customs House, the Bank of British North America, the Mechanics Institute, the Orange Lodge, the Masons, the Merchants Exchange, A&D Shaw Dry Goods, various church groups, a saloon and some residential tenants.
In June 1891, Sir John A. Macdonald’s body lay in state in what is now Memorial Hall.
In 1908 the cupola on top of the dome and part of the dome burned, the cupola was rebuilt in May 1909 and the new Seth Thomas clock and a new bell was installed. The 1908 clock and bell are the current clock and bell that are present in the dome today.
In 2002 a new copper roof and clock tower reconstruction commenced along with phase-one of the masonry restoration. All four clocks were removed so that the stained glass faces could be repaired.
The Virtual tour.
The Windows of Memorial Hall
The 12 stained glass windows of Memorial Hall pay tribute to Canadians who fought – and often died – in such First World War battles as Vimy Ridge. This online presentation showcases the windows that were dedicated “In Honour of Kingston’s Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Nursing Sisters who served overseas in the Great War – 1914-1918.”
With each window is a narrative outlining the impetus for the image depicted. The windows were placed in Memorial Hall in 1921, most of them being donated to the City of Kingston in memory of someone who died in the war.