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Markham Village and Town Hall

Old Town Hall and the Franklin House HotelMarkham Village and Town Hall

The arguments in favour of a permanent Town Hall were many: court proceedings were being conducted on the third floor of a Village store, the municipal fire equipment was stored in a shed, the “municipal office” and Council Chambers could only accommodate about 10 people. In addition, Markham Village was expected to grow rapidly.

William Hamilton Hall, the proprietor of Franklin House, contributed part of his property at the southwest corner of Main Street North and Robinson Street for the project. Construction began in 1881 with John Anthony as the architect. The Freemasons and Oddfellows offered to pay almost half the $2,500 construction cost in return for a 99-year lease and their own lodge houses in the Town Hall.

Markham’s grand Town Hall opened in January 1882 and the first Council meeting took place there on January 16. For the next 60 years it acted as the centre of activity for the Village.

In 1946, the Town Hall was sold and the building became a cinema. The auditorium floor and staircase to the top floor were removed, the basement was altered to provide a concession area, and the facade was plastered over. The Freemasons and Oddfellows continued to use the building until the early 1950s.

In 1971, York Township became the Region of York and the boundaries of Markham Township changed. Some sections went to the Town of Richmond Hill; others to the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville. What remained of Markham Township became the Town of Markham. Council Chambers moved to the former Township offices in Buttonville until 1990 when the Markham Civic Centre opened. The old Town Hall was bought by the Town of Markham in 1983 and restored in the mid-80s. It is now protected under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The Old Town Hall as a movie theatre  The restored Town Hall in the 1980's