Old Tacoma City Hall

Date of Establishment

Finished in late April of 1893 Tacoma’s Old City Hall building was the seat for the city’s government until 1957. Now Placed on the National Registry of Historic Places the build was saved from demolition in 1974. The building originally housed a jail in its basement, however, after the 1959 renovations this space was modernized. Today the owners continue to fix it up while looking for more business and apartments to be leased.

Name & Location

The town of Tacoma, Washington is an urban port city on Washington’s Puget Sound, about 32 miles from Seattle. It adopted its name from the Mount Rainier, originally called Takhoma or Tahoma, but is locally known as the “City of Destiny”. In 1940 the city gained a new nickname of “Galloping Gertie” after the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The town itself was founded in 1864 when a Civil War veteran built his cabinet; which served as the first post office in later years.

Tacoma’s Old City Hall is located in downtown Tacoma, Washington on in the heart of the business district. Designed by E. A Hatherton from San Francisco, the building proudly stood stately and ornate as the apple of civic pride for Tacoma residents. Today the Stratford Company actively owns and leases the spaces, while trying to maintain its historical look.

Physical Description

The building showcases Italian Renaissance-style architecture as it stands five-story high in the middle of downtown Tacoma. It also features a beautiful ten-story clock tower peering down with four massive bells inside. Inside the main building, it is described as “a unique blend of classic architectural details”. With 16-ft heigh ceilings, sweeping archways, and tall windows this building created a distinctive office environment.


Like most old buildings the true amount of spirits or manifestations to happen is unknown. Some believe the spirits are people who were wronged in the “political game” coming back for vengeance. While others may believe these entities are lonely, missing interaction, or are engaging in pranking for chuckles. Main believes no matter who these spirits are, they want to draw attention and help to their crumbling home, so they may live on with it.

One entity or spirit that stands out is that of Mr. Gus, he is known for talking to the living for attention. He’s reported to roam the 1st floor where the old Bar area would be. He engages new employees with tricks and disappears when they begin talking about him to others. The origin of the “bell” entity is unknown, mangers have slept in the tower overnight looking for practical jokers only to leave convinced its due to an entity. However, some believe it is the spirit of a young girl, who’s father donated them after her death. The claims from security guards have never been tracked to a specific spirit, nor the basic creepy residual energy.

Mythology and Lore

The Old City Hall is not unlike every old building, it has its share of haunting tales and urban legends. The bell tower is known to ring late-night or early-morning. Since the 70s police have responded to numerous disturbances within the building or bell tower. These include lights flashing, disturbing noises, voices and coughing, shadow figures/apparitions, fire and security alarms being triggered, and so forth. Upon investing the ground, however, the police never find signs of forced entry, tampering, or trespassing. Witnesses have even claimed to see objects flying across the room toward them. Security guards are often the targets of these “spirit’s” pranks, but now and then visitors experience the haunting as well., and even speaking to them.

Most reports from the Old City Hall suggest that “Gus” moves the building’s elevator up and down, and unlocks the door for visitors. Along with any electrical item you can think of being a target for Hall’s spirits. There are too many personal experiences to cover and match up over this building’s history. Up until now, most paranormal teams have been yet to investigate Tacoma’s, City Hall. The residence or businesses still leasing the building continue to report active from time to time, but little is published on the matter.

Tacoma as a troubled history that has 1000s of the reason a ghost may haunt this majestic and creepy old building. From battling Indians to settle the area, railroad misfortune, fires, flooding; this town and its residents have seen it all. As the Historic Society works to rebuild and restore this building, hopefully, the tails from the past will follow. Therefore, giving the spirits that roam here a story to share with the world as their own.

Modern Pop-Culture References
Books & Literature
  • Three Fugitives (1989) [Filmed on site]
  • Washington Haunted Houses
  • Kiro 7
  • Haunted House.com
  • Northwest Military.com

Is there anything we missed about Old Tacoma City Hall? Let us know in the comments section below!


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