Original City Hall, Richmond, VA

Original City Hall

Richmond, Virginia

Architect: Robert Mills

[The original City Hall], of Doric [Greek] lines with huge columns and a symmetrical dome, occupied the east end of the present City Hall site. On the west end stood First Presbyterian Church, which fronted on Tenth Street, with the manse beside it on the Capitol Street corner. This had been the home of Edmund Randolph.

The collapse of a floor in the Capitol [Building in Richmond], with the loss of sixty-three lives, brought about the replacement of the municipal building with the present one. Every public building was under suspicion after the calamity of 1870, and immediately agitation was started for a new City Hall. On February 20, 1874, the Council ordered the old structure pulled down, and in July the work of demolition followed. Only when it was too late was it found that the building was structurally as sound as it was beautiful and artistic.

Robert Mills was the architect for the original City Hall, which was authorized on April 18, 1814, by the Common Hall, as the governing body was called. On June 6th the plans were approved and $60,000.00 appropriated for the work. The building was completed on February 28, 1816, at a cost of $106,151.00. Originally designed for the courts as well as the municipal offices, it was used not only by the city and state courts, but also by the federal courts. . . . .

The present City Hall [now the Old City Hall; it is still standing, but a more modern building is currently in use as the city hall] was erected between 1887 and 1894 at a cost (including that of the lot) in excess of $1,500,000.00. It is of Virginia granite, with a tower 180 feet high. The last appearance of railroad locomotives on downtown Broad Street was late at night when hauling materials for this building. The work was started under a "reform government," and the estimated cost was set at $300,000.00. It was built by day labor mostly, and $1,318,349.19 was actually spent on work and materials before the structure was ready for occupancy.

This article was first published in Earle Lutz, A Richmond Album: A pictorial chronicle of an historic city's outstanding events and places, Garrett and Massie, Incorporated, Richmond, VA, 1937.

Copyright © 2002 Sarah E. Mitchell