Built in 1893, this 6-story, 86,000 square foot building was named to the historic registry in 1974.
Designed by E.A Hatherton of San Francisco, there are many magnificent features in this grand building.
- The ground floor has 8-foot thick walls made from bricks of ships’ ballast from the 1800s.
- The original boiler has been used to heat the building for 125 years.
- The Tacoma jail cells and doors remain in the basement waiting for the new purpose.
- With entrances on Commerce Street, Market Street, and Pacific Avenue, this is the prime location, past & present, to work, eat, and shop.
Built in Hard Times
The original Tacoma City Hall was built in 1893 during a depression era. This Italianesque style building was completed on April 23, 1893, at a cost of $257,965 and used by the city until 1959. Although a clock and bell tower was originally planned, the funds were unavailable from the beginning and a benefactor was sought.
The Wallace Family
Tacoma received the bell and chimes as a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Wallace, the ambassador to France. They presented their gift on Christmas Day, 1904 to honor the memory of their daughter, Mildred Fuller Wallace 1891-1903. They soon left Tacoma and did not return.
The heavy chimes & 4 bells took months to install. The tone F bell weighs 2000lbs, Tone A sharp is 800lbs, Tone C weighs 600lbs, and tone D is 400lbs. Together with the bells first played the chant “Lord, in this hour, be Thou our guide, And by Thy power let no foot slide.”
The bells were silenced often throughout the years in part due to protests from local hotel owners and in part due to the high cost of operations.
The refurbished bells are intended to ring on the hour during business hours so as not to cause protests from its neighbours!
Old City Hall has hosted the most esteemed members of Tacoma and housed the worst criminals of its times in the basement jail. The tales it beholds in the the 125-years of history amongst its 80,000 sq.ft. of space is a unique part of Tacoma’s past. Here are some of our favorite stories but please share more!
- OCH has been closed due to Fires, Floods, Termites, a Communist invasion, several wars, and many bankruptcies…..
- 1893-1959 it served as the home of Tacoma City Government
- Vacant for 10 years until private owners turned it into retail and restaurants in the 1960s
- Faced demolition in 1962 until it was saved by the Delphinium Garden Clubwomen
- OCH has hosted Gala evenings, Society events, public forums, unique shops and great restaurants. But we know the best is yet to come!
Tacoma Historical Society
Surge Tacoma is excited to host Tacoma Historical Society’s museum and exhibits. They are an important member of our community at OCH. Tacoma Historical Society members will host tours that will include the history of our building and the clock tower.