The building was built in 1896 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 10, 1995. It was designed by the New York firm Carrere and Hastings in 1894, and is modeled after the Hôtel de Ville (city hall) in Lyon, France, capital of the silk industry in Europe. There are three statues of Paterson political figures outside of the Market Street side of building. One, which is adjacent to the corner of Market Street and Washington Street, honors businessman and philanthropist Nathan Barnert, who was elected twice as mayor. Another, which is adjacent to the corner of Market Street and Colt Street, honors physician Andrew McBride, who was elected a total of three times to the office of mayor. The third, centered in between the two and in front of the entrance to the building, honors former Vice President of the United States Garret Hobart, who took residence in Paterson following his graduation from Rutgers College and became one of its most powerful political leaders before his election as William McKinley’s first Vice President.
This superb example of Beaux Arts design occupies its own block and boasts a 164-foot, four-face clock tower ornately detailed with sculpted wreaths, shields, urns and eagles. Resting on a granite podium and rusticated ground story, the building’s nine bays on Market Street are defined by monumental composite-order pilasters surmounted by a modillioned cornice and balustrade. Its grand, arched entrance and composite windows are richly embellished with scrolls, brackets and elaborate surrounds. The building’s rear facade on Ellison Street consists of projecting gabled wings, monumental arched bays, a high attic story, and a continuous cornice frieze of S-curves and shells. Three central windows are of leaded stained glass and commemorate civic leaders. The focus of the downtown commercial district since its erection, City Hall best represents Paterson’s absorption of the broader use of monumental Beaux Arts design in late 19th-century public buildings nationwide. More importantly for the Downtown Commercial Historic District, its example also influenced the character of later buildings in adjacent blocks, particularly those reconstructed after the fire.