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The history of the town hall pre-dates the current town hall, as the present building is the third consecutive town hall built on the same location. It was erected, following a devastating city fire, between 1782 and 1789 to designs by the German architect Johann Heinrich Bartholomäus Walter. From the outset, the building was designed to house a number of tenants in addition to the city government; a prison and a storage for weighs and measures were included already in the original drawings. The town hall has always suffered from a lack of space, and to this day a pharmacy is located in parts of the premises. The architect and mason, J. H. B. Walther, also worked on the Von Bock House which was across the square and was being completed at the same time as the town hall was constructed.
The town hall is built in an early Neoclassical style, with Rococo and Baroque details, such as the steeple containing the carillon (which is still played daily). The town hall shows many stylistic similarities with the somewhat earlier town hall of Narva.