The Trades Hall, commissioned in 1791 from Robert Adam & Partners, was first used in September 1794 on Deacons' Choosing Day, when the Incorporated Trades held their elections. The principal contractor was a wright, John Brown.
The building has had a continuous history of alteration and repair, with major work on the Glassford facade in the early 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Significant alterations have included the upward extension of the north Pavilion in 1806 (after the Trades Free School was founded) by David Hamilton who may have worked on the building with Robert, James and William Adam. In 1837 Hamilton extended the south pavilion to create the Saloon with an improved schoolroom above and in 1840 he was instructed to take down the Adam decoration in the Grand Hall in favour of something more ornate. This survived until replaced mid 20th century with a coffered ceiling of avodire wood and the walls were panelled in mahogany.
After state education made the school redundant following the 1872 Education (Scotland) Act, the top floor of the building remained derelict until 2003. Then the public trust, to which the Trades House and Incorporated Trades had conveyed the building for its safety and preservation in 1977, was able to refurbish it. This included the reinstatement of three large venetian-style windows in the Glassford Street facade. Visitors are welcome and the Hall has been available for hire since 1794.
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