More than 125 years
after Port Perry's Town Hall opened for use, it
remains one of the most important and imposing historical
structures in the town.
Discussions about construction
of a new town hall began in 1871, but it wasn't
until almost a year later that plans finally got
In February 1872, the subject
of building a town hall for the new corporation
of Port Perry was brought up at a council meeting,
which resulted in the forming of a committee, consisting
of Reeve Joseph Bigelow and councillor Tate, Philippo
and Sexton to obtain plans and the possible cost
of building a suitable town hall.
About six months later, Port Perry
council passed a by-law at one of their regular
meetings, to debenture $10,000 for organizing a
fire department, securing a fire engine and to build
a town hall.
They settled on a site on the
south-west corner of Queen and Lilla (Simcoe) St.,
owned by Benjamin Crandell. Mr. Crandell sold the
lot to the village for $1,000, and construction
got underway during the summer of 1873. Most of
the exterior work was completed that year, with
work on the inside taking place throughout the winter.
In March, the editor of the Observer
filed the following progress report: "We had the
pleasure the other day of visiting our new Town
Hall. The mason work is being done in a manner which
would do credit to any of our cities and fairly
establishes the reputation of Mr. Wm. Spence, as
one of our most skillful contractors.
The ceiling is really handsome,
surrounded by a fine cornice about six feet wide
with some six or eight centre pieces. This hall
will be no less an ornament to the village than
a credit to the liberality, enterprise and intelligence
of its inhabitants.
From the appearance of things
the Town Hall will be dry and thoroughly ready for
use in a couple of months, and we would say by all
means let us have an opening worthy of so splendid
It appears there never was a special
celebration or official opening of the new Town
Hall, as work seemed to plod along for the next
few months. Council purchased 75 bench seats for
the hall in March at 35¢ per foot, and by June the
Town Hall's handsome new tower was finally installed.
Exterior bricking was underway
when council received an offer from a Mr. Jones
of Markham to supply a bell for the Town Hall on
a trial basis, and if considered satisfactory the
cost to the town would be $120. It is unclear if
this offer was accepted.
Even in its uncompleted state,
the building began to be used for a number of events
over the next few months, including a concert, church
services and an election meeting for Reeve Joseph
Bigelow, when the hall was described as still "naked
of bricks on its lofty walls, had gaping joists
and was in a general uncompleted state."
The hall came under the scrutiny
of the Observer editor once again in the spring
of 1875, when he complained of the inadequate lighting
in the building. "Some six pieces of rusty crooked
iron with four rush lights sticking on the ends
of them are dignified with the title of chandeliers
and made to do duty by furnishing sufficient glimmer
so that people may not run up against each other
or stumble over the benches," he wrote.
He also commented on the state
of the bell tower, saying "it is certainly no credit
to this thriving town to have a bell tower on our
splendid Town Hall, looking down like a great dummy
through its leather spectacles on the passers by.
One looks up for a clock and finds the bottom of
a flour barrel meeting his gaze. One thousand dollars
will place a suitable four dial clock in the bell
In May 1875 council discuss the
merits and necessity of a bell and clock for the
town hall, but no decision was made at that time.
Estimated cost to build the hall
in 1873 was about $6,000.
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