Port Louis – The Municipal Council and the City Hall

Port Louis - City Hall Viewed From Emmanuel Anquetil Building - 1974

Port Louis – City Hall Viewed From current Registrar Building – 1974 (Courtesy: Seewonlall Seeruttun)

The Port Louis City Hall that we can see today (2014) was constructed in 1965 and replaced the old Colonial building known as “Hotel D’Europe”. The idea of creating a municipal corporation in Port Louis started in the 1820s and among those who emphasized on establishing such an institution were Adrien D’Epinay and Rémy Ollier. Adrien D’Epinay was the founder of the newspaper Le Cernéen, and Rémy Ollier was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper La Sentinelle de Maurice.

During the French Revolution in 1790, the Colonial Assembly created municipalities in different areas of the country. In Port Louis, the first mayor established was Mr Enouf, who was later replaced by Mr Francois Fressanges. However, with the dissolution of the ‘Conseil de Commune’ in 1820, those municipalities also disappeared. Since, Adrien d’Epinay, as mentioned earlier, fought to re-establish the municipalities. After his death, Rémy Ollier continued this fight. In 1848, a public gathering was held at the “Hotel D’Europe” and a petition was signed by many for this same cause.

Port Louis - Old Town Hall - Desforges Street - 1960s

Port Louis – Old Town Hall – Ex-Hotel D’Europe – Desforges Street – 1960s

The first municipal elections under British Mauritius were held on 26 February 1850 and on the 4th March of the same year Mr Louis Léchelle was nominated as the town’s first Mayor, with Mr Félix Koenig as vice-mayor. At first, the municipal staffs, including the mayor, occupied a rented house on Edith Cavell Street (previously known as Rempart Street). In 1866, Mr Charles Pitot, the 6th mayor of Port Louis moved the offices to the Grand Hotel D’Europe which the municipality acquired to become the town hall.

Port Louis declared City Changes Status from Town - 1966

Port Louis declared City – Changes Status from Town – 1966

On 25 August 1966, Port Louis was conferred from the status of ‘Town’ to ‘City’, and this ceremony coincided with the opening of the new ‘City’ Hall. As mentioned earlier, this new building began construction in 1965 and inaugurated in 1966. In 1971, the title of Lord Mayor was conferred to the first magistrate of the city, Sir Gaetan Duval.

Port Louis still bears some souvenirs of the first Mayors engraved on structures here and there.

Old Railway Bridge - Port Louis - Louis Lechelle Mayor - 1852

Old Railway Bridge – Port Louis – Louis Lechelle Mayor – 1852

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