Gamle Rådhus or the old Town Hall was built by chief municipal executive Lauritz Hansen in 1641, with the financial support of King Christian IV. It was originally built as Oslo’s first town hall but later housed a fire station, church, private residence, Supreme Court, prison, Freemasons’ lodge, restaurant and museum. It was also, at one point of its long history, the main meeting place for the citizens of Oslo.
The lockups from its time as a prison still remain on the ground floor.
In 1856, restaurateur Matheus Helseth took over the building and opened a restaurant on the ground floor.
The Theatrical Museum has occupied premises one storey above since 1980. The building was left in disrepair for a number of years until 1983, when it once again opened as a restaurant, Restaurant Det Gamle Raadhus, bringing new owners and a new décor.
Tragically, the building had to close after a fire on the ground floor in 1996. It remained closed for two years and required comprehensive restoration work before reopening in 1998 as a restaurant and with a new entrance area for the Theatrical Museum, from Christiania Torv square. Since then, the restaurant has developed a close partnership with Oslo Museum, with the aim of developing cultural and culinary experiences in this distinguished old building.