Built as a symbol of Belleville's growth and prosperity and as an expression of civic pride and confidence in the future, this building was one of a few civic complexes completed during the economic depression of 1873, and one of even fewer completed with the elaboration of interior and exterior fittings.
The building was designed by local architect John D. Evans and built by contractor John Forin. This brick and limestone building is distinguished by its tall Gothic Revival windows on the second floor, a bell-cast mansard roof with dormers, a massive 144-foot clock tower with octagonal buttresses, blind arcades of Gothic columns, four large illuminated clock faces and cast iron railings and weathervanes. The clock mechanism and faces were crafted by E. Howard and Co. of Boston and installed by A. and J. McFee.
It is one of a very few public buildings of its period designed in the High Victorian Gothic Revival style.
A readily identifiable landmark in Belleville, the City Hall forms an integral part of both the commercial streetscape and the city's skyline as viewed from a distance. The building sits as a centrepiece to a grouping of churches, and major public and commercial buildings.
The building originally had only two floors, with the second housing the auditorium and offices for the town. The first floor was an inside market which was moved outside by 1961 to become part of the market activities on the present Market Square behind City Hall.
In 1979, the Town of Belleville designated City Hall under the Ontario Heritage Act and, in 1989, the Ontario Heritage Trust secured a heritage easement on the building.
In 1988, City Hall was renovated by Bel-Con Engineering Ltd. They changed City Hall's two floors into four floors adding over 10,000 square feet of new space. Local businesses and groups donated many new furnishings at that time. In 1997-1998 City Hall was renovated again to accommodate the changes due to the amalgamation of Belleville and Thurlow Township.
The third floor of City Hall has a beautiful stained glass window designed by Stephen Taylor of Bloomfield. The window is an abstract view of Belleville and was presented to City Hall by the Belleville Downtown Improvement Area in 1989.
The fourth floor of City Hall features the Mayor and CAO's offices, meeting rooms and Council Chambers.