The design by local architect William Pitt in the Classical Revival style. It was built in 1890. Pitt's grand vision for the town hall was never completed. When funds dried out, the plans which included an ornate free classical tower details, similar in design to the South Melbourne Town Hall were not realised.
In 1925 the large classical portico, not part of Pitt's original design, was added, and the building's facade's stone finish was stuccoed over and painted white. To coincide with St Kilda's new status as a city, the building was renamed City Hall.
In the early hours of Sunday 7 April, 1991, fire gutted the St Kilda Town Hall resulting in lost art works, complete damage of the large pipe organ built by George Fincham, and a large repair bill. Arson was suspected. The building had redevelopment 'Annexe' works completed to the rear of it in February 2008.
The City Hall sits in 19th-century gardens which form a circular driveway and entrance to the grand staircase. The gardens were once used as recreational park space, however currently they are isolated from pedestrians by the busy Brighton Road and Carlisle street intersection.
After the amalgamation of the City of St Kilda with the City of Port Melbourne and the City of South Melbourne in 1994 to form the new City of Port Phillip, the Town Hall now functions as secondary offices for the new Port Phillip City Council. The majority of Port Phillip staff work in the new 'Annexe'.