City Hall was designed by John Roberts and work began on the building in 1783. In that year, the chief merchants of the city acquired the lease of the land where City Hall now stands for the purpose of erecting a playhouse and assembly room. It was agreed that the mayor of the city was to have full use of the entire ground floor for public entertainment.
In 1813, the corporation bought out the remainder of the lease and moved the city offices from the Exchange on the quay to City Hall, where they remain to this day. The Large Room, known in the eighteenth century as the Grand Banqueting Room, has welcomed such notable figures as Daniel O’ Connell, Thomas Francis Meagher, Isaac Butt, Charles Stewart Parnell and John Redmond.
In the adjoining council chamber hangs William Van der Hagen’s famous view of Waterford, the earliest view of an Irish city. The corporation commissioned the painting in 1736 for the princely sum of £20. The central chandelier in the chamber, dating from the mid 1780s, is the largest and oldest piece of Waterford glass extant, and was originally commissioned for the Presence Chamber in Dublin Castle, where it hung until 1836.
City Hall also houses the office of the city manager and the Mayor’s Parlour, where for nearly 200 years the mayor has entertained visiting dignitaries. The names of over 600 mayors are listed and each year the outgoing mayor adds his name to the plaque.