The Fitzroy Library was officially opened to the public on 17 July 1877 by the then Mayor, Cr. Sam Lyons J.P. In 1888, work began on the southern wing and reopened in 1890.
“The most imposing structure in Fitzroy city – as it should be, we suppose – is undoubtedly the town hall, on the pillars of which are emblazoned in gold letters and in deep intaglio the names and titles of the worthy men who as councillors or officials have been identified with the growth and prosperity of this model municipality. Sooth to say, this noble building is considered a white elephant, one of less ambitious proportions would have served every purpose and materially diminished the city’s present indebtedness, which stands at about 160,000, the annual interest upon which must “put a big hole” in the revenue. The edifice, apart from precise technicalities, may be described as of the composite order, consisting of a central block, in which are situated the administrative offices and official quarters, surmounted by a tower gradually tapering to a cupola, connecting two large longitudinal buildings which form three sides of a courtyard at the rear. The elevation facing Napier-street is highly ornate. The main entrance has a handsome approach by a short flight of steps leading into a small vestibule, off of which the town clerk’s offices are located, while what are really the flanking buildings appear like huge wings with handsome facades, reached by wide flights of blue stone steps and with rows of fluted columns in the Corinthian style supporting heavy cornices and sculptured pediments. The adoption of this peculiar style appears to have been the result of accident. The original building consisted of the northern wing as it now stands, with the tower and offices attached. These involved an expenditure of about 10,000 pounds and according to a high authority were sufficient for every purpose. Not content, however, the council decided to finish the building, the Government contributing 8,400 pounds of the additional cost, on condition of receiving accommodation for holding petty sessions in the building with a watch house and police station attached. The total cost of the structure was over 30,000 pounds. The building includes a large hall for public meetings and entertainments, a free library with a splendid collection of volumes of standard literature, a school of arts, a lecture hall and smaller apartments, which can be utilised for almost every possible object. It may with justice be said that the Fitzroy town hall is one of the finest municipal buildings in the colony.” The Leader, 8 Feb 1896
The town hall has had many uses, including in 1919 being used as a centre to inoculate as many of the 33,658 people living in the city against an epidemic of influenza which occurred in early 1919. (Fitzroy City Press, 4 Jun 1920)
“The Fitzroy Free Library was opened again to visitors on Monday evening last, 6 January, in the grand new room. Napier street, corner of Condell-street. It will be open every evening in future from seven till ten o’clock, Sundays excepted. This library possesses many attractions, having 3859 volumes on Fiction, Biography, History, Science and General Literature.” The Mercury 9 Jan 1890