Boston's Old City Hall was home to its city council from 1865 to 1969. It was one of the first buildings in the French Second Empire style to be built in the United States and is now one of few remaining. After the building's completion, the Second Empire style was used extensively elsewhere in Boston and for many public buildings in the United States, such as the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. as well as other city halls in Providence, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Old City Hall, built between 1862 and 1865, is located at 45 School Street, along the Freedom Trail between the Old South Meeting House and King's Chapel. The Boston Latin School operated on the site from 1704 to 1748, and on the same street until 1844.
Also on the site, the Suffolk County Courthouse was erected in 1810 and converted to Boston's second city hall in 1841, being replaced by the current building twenty-four years later. Thirty-eight Boston mayors, including John F. Fitzgerald, Maurice J. Tobin, and James Michael Curley, served their terms of office on School Street at this site over a period of 128 years.
With the 1969 move to the current Boston City Hall, Old City Hall was converted over the next two years to serve other functions–an early and successful example of adaptive reuse. Boston based architecture firm Finegold Alexander + Associates Inc completed the adaptive use and renovation.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1970.
It now houses a number of businesses, organizations, and a Ruth's Chris Steak House, though its most famous tenant, the upscale French restaurant Maison Robert, closed in 2004.
Points of architectural interest include: