Five years after the British established the settlement of Sydney as a penal colony in 1788, they created a European cemetery. The Old Sydney Burial Ground operated until 1820. In 1868, the land was repurposed for the first town hall. Architect J. H. Willson’s French Second Empire design was inspired by the Hotel de Ville in Paris. The ornate sandstone building has provided offices for the lord mayor, city council and other local government functions since 1889.