Brussels Town Hall
Turnberry Street, Brussels, Ont.
( Built: 1875 ~ Demolished: 1962 )
John Somersett bought Lots 16, 17, 33 and 34 in 1870 from John Mitchell. “Mr. Somersett, late of Barrie, has purchased the property of Mr. Mitchell, of London, thus completing the Somersett block. The Misses Wynn have opened a new millinery establishment next door to the London House, Somerett block.” (Huron Expositor Apr. 29, 1870) John Somersett had purchased Lot 18 in October 1869.
A Market House with Town Hall was planned for the village in 1874. Before this the village had a log building on the Market Square. “Market, Town Hall, &c. – At a meeting of the Council, held on Wednesday evening last, the following resolution was passed: “That the money due this corporation by the Government on account of division of surplus fund, be expended during the present season in building a Market House with Town Hall and the necessary offices, &c., and that the necessary by-laws be prepared and passed at the next meeting of Council. (Huron Expositor May 1, 1874) The property was purchased from James Laird in 1875 (Laird had purchased from Somersett in 1875)
The contract for building the Town Hall was let in May 1875. “The Market Building – At the last meeting of the Brussels Council, the contract for erecting the new market building was awarded to Mr John Cormack for $2,485. This, of course, does not include extras.” Work progressed rapidly and the new building was expected to open at the end of September. (Huron Expositor May 21, Aug. 20, 1875)
A celebration was held on October 22, 1875 to mark the opening of the Town Hall: “The New Town Hall – The new town hall is to be opened by a grand concert, to be given under the auspices of the Western Star Lodge, 149, Brussels, on Friday, Oct. 22. The best of talent has been engaged for the occasion. The hall is to be all seated with chairs, and heated with hot air. The building is nearly completed. The hall is 34 x 73, and will be among one of the best in the County.” (Huron Expositor Oct. 1, 1875)
Above Photo: The Brussels Town Hall once stood where the Legion is now. It was built in 1875 and demolished in 1962.
It was fortunate that the Town Hall escaped with some damage in the fire of 1876. “During this time the tailor shop and dwelling of D. Ross, south of Wynn’s wagon shop, had fallen prey to the fire, and with the greatest exertions the town hall west of Ross’, was saved, it having taken fire three times.” (Huron Expositor Aug. 25, 1876)
The market part of the Town Hall had four butcher’s stalls. “Butchers’ Stalls – The four butchers’ stalls in the market house have all been rented. The Council are having them all completely finished with ice boxes, counters, and necessary fittings. They are rented two at $25 and two at $20 each. They will be occupied on the first of the coming week.” (Huron Expositor Mar. 3, 1876)
William Blashill, Butcher, had a shop in the market in 1880. (Brussels Post Jan. 30, 1880) A. Currie may have been one of the butchers with a stall in the new market. In May 1883, the Expositor reported his removal to a new location: “Removal – A Currie has moved his butcher shop from the town hall to his new stand next door to Fletcher’s jewellery shop. As for position and size of shop it seems to be a good change.” (Huron Expositor May 24, 1883)
Belden’s 1879 Historical Atlas of Huron County listed the Town Hall among the village’s assets. “The assets of the village may be stated at $14,000; including fire apparatus, $5,000; Town Hall and grounds, $4,000; and School and grounds (estimated), 5,000. The Town Hall was chiefly built by the village’s share of the Municipal Loan Fund Surplus, which amounted (including interest) to $3,166. The building is a handsome one, containing public hall, lock-up with two cells, clerk’s office, fire hall, band room, butchers’ stalls, &c., &c.”
FS Scott, Conveyancer and Insurance broker, had an office in the Town Hall in 1880. Next to the Town Hall, T Parsons had a rope making shop: “Rope & Twine – Mr. T Parsons carries on the business of rope and twine making on Main Street, near the Town Hall. He is said to make good wares, but
complains that the merchants do not give him a fair show….” (Brussels Post Jan. 30, June 25, 1880)
In 1881, a new bell was ordered for placement at the Town Hall. “Mr Rogers, Reeve, has ordered a 400 lb. bell from the foundry of WR Wilson, Brussels, to be placed on the hose tower at the town hall to be used as a town bell. The same is a present from Mr Rogers to the citizens of Brussels.” (Huron Expositor July 15, 1881) The bell was rung four times a day as well as to call worshippers to Sunday service and to raise the fire alarm. It was once one of the regular sounds heard in the village. The bell now installed at the fire hall.
The Town Hall underwent renovations in 1886. A new handrail was installed. (Brussels Post July 30, Sept. 10, 1886) Further work was necessary by 1895: “The lower floor of the Town Hall has sagged about an inch under or alongside the hallway leading to the cells. The floor will be lifted and the joisting jacked up and properly secured.” (Brussels Post Dec. 6, 1895) The interior was in need of renovation, according to The Post, in 1897. Tenders were let at the end of the following year: “Tenders are wanted for repairing plaster in Town Hall, kalsomining the walls and ceiling, and frosting the lower half of the windows around the stage. The lowest tenders will be received up to Tuesday, Nov. 15th at 1 o’clock. Any other information may be obtained from WH Kerr, Geo Thomson, R Leatherdale, Property Committee.” DA Lowry was awarded the contract of repairing the plastering, kalsomining the walls and ceiling, and frosting the windows on the stage. His tender was $30.00. (Brussels Post Nov. 11, 18, 1898)
Above Advertisements from the Brussels Post: February 18, 1905.
In candescent lighting was installed in 1898: “An incandescent chandelier containing 5 lights and overshadowed by a glass reflector was put into the Town Hall last week to light up the stage. R Mainprice did the work and it works all right. A ‘dimmer’ will be put on so that the light can be reduced if occasion demands without turning off the current altogether.” (Brussels Post Nov. 25, 1898)
The Town Hall was the site of many community events like political rallies, dances, and both amateur and travelling theatre productions, and the “talkies” movies. The Division Court was also held here: “A new enclosed desk and an upholstered armchair have been placed in the Town Hall, Brussels, for the comfort and convenience of Judge Doyle while in attendance at Division Courts. These were placed there at the Judge’s request but at the expense of the corporation. The latter receives an annul fee from Grey and Morris townships to assist in defraying expenses of holding the Court here.” (Brussels Post Oct. 19, 1894) Visiting lecturers also took to the stage: “Phrenological lecture in the Town Hall every evening this week by Prof. Taggart.” (Brussels Post Aug. 7, 1896)
William C Smith painted a drop curtain for the Town Hall stage in 1900. “Wm C Smith is painting a scenic drop curtain, in distemper, for the front of the stage in the Town Hall. Wing scenes are also being prepared. Mr Smith has quite a taste for this class of work and handles the brush with effect. He should develop the talent.” The Post reported on the results: “Looks First Class – WC Smith has completed the drop curtain, back curtain and wing scenes for the stage at the Town Hall and the work looks very nice indeed. The front scene presents a landscape with old castle, while above it are a couple of Union Jacks and a Maple Leaf, with the words ‘The Maple Leaf Forever.’ Mr Mainprize is rearranging the electric lighting so that better effect will be afforded. The curtains cost $35.00 but toward that sum there was $17.77, the surplus from the concert series held last year. Some attention will also be paid to the board walls at the stage and possibly an extension made to the platform.” (Brussels Post Feb. 22, Mar. 8, 1900)
The Town Hall was renovated more than once, but by 1962 was considered beyond repair. It was demolished and the property was sold to the Brussels Legion Branch 218.