The brick walls at the base of the structure are eight feet thick and were made with bricks brought as ballast on ships. The clock tower is freestanding and its walls tilt inward as they rise, to increase the sense of height. Hugh C. Wallace, future United States ambassador to France, donated the clock and chimes in 1905, in memory of his daughter.
In 1959, City of Tacoma offices moved to a modern building with Pierce County offices and the Old City Hall stood vacant for more than 10 years. During the 1970s it was renovated into boutiques and restaurants, but they did not thrive, and in the 1980s the Old City Hall was converted into professional offices.