South Melbourne Town Hall, originally known as Emerald Hill Town Hall, was opened to public on 24th June 1880. Designs were called for the construction of Town Hall in 1878 with a budget of £23,000. Prominent architect Charles Webb’s design was finalised and soon the tenders of Messrs Gillow and Trelby for the construction of the building was accepted. Charles Webb was also behind the designs of Royal Arcade and Hotel Windsor.
Formerly the site was occupied by Melbourne Protestant Orphan Asylum which was relocated to a site in Brighton for the construction of the Town Hall. Initially,The Offices of Emerald Council, Post and Telegraph Office, the Police Quarters, Court house, fire brigade station, the local library and the Mechanics institute were housed in the building. Town Hall was built in Victorian Academic Classical style with French Second Empire influences, highly ornate with a lofty tower surmounted by a flag staff. It has 26 rooms comprising a large hall. The clock tower featuring Clocks on all four sides was created by Thomas Gaunt, the famous Melbourne Watchmaker who won award for horology in 1880’s Melbourne International Exhibition. The building has four street frontages.
Emerald Hill became a municipality in 1855 and the City took as its motto, “In Ordine Primum”, which means “First in field”. It became a city in September 1883 and the name was changed from Emerald Hill to South Melbourne. By 1900, the interior of Town Hall was completely altered and greatly improved by decorations. The Post Office was relocated in 1913. In the 1920’s the Court House and the Police Station were relocated to a new building just opposite the town hall and the space was allocated to a new Baby Health Centre. In 1938 the Mechanics Institute ceased functioning. Further refurbishment took place in 1938, during which the mansard rooves, urns and the ornamental Chimneys were removed and the Council Chamber and the Mayoral Office were remodelled and refurbished. With funding from State Government Heritage grant, the building renovations began in 2005 which included reinstatement of the decorative roof and the restoration of the original ochre exterior colour.
The Jubilee Fountain in the forecourt was erected in 1905 to commemorate the jubilee of the City and the departure of the several Victorian contingents who fought the battles of the Queen and the Empire in South Africa (The Boer War).
After the 1994 amalgamation of the cities of South Melbourne, Port Melbourne and St Kilda to form City of Port Phillip, the headquarters of the Council administration was shifted to St Kilda Town Hall but still some of the offices of the council operate from here.
Public can hire venues at the Town Hall with one theatre and two meeting rooms available for the purpose. This is also a popular venue for Wedding Photography.
Address: 208-220 Bank St, South Melbourne VIC 3205