United States Custom House – Charleston, South Carolina

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Located in historic downtown Charleston, the United States Custom House was completed in 1879 and is one of only several historical custom buildings that continues to serve its original purpose.

U.S. Customs House

F. Everett Leigh of Union, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Historically, a custom house was a building that served as a port of entry into a country, where government officials regulated commerce and collected shipping taxes. By the mid-1800s, Charleston had become one of the busiest port cities in the country and the US Custom Service had outgrown its headquarters in The Old Exchange Building.

In 1849, Congress purchased the waterfront site on East Bay Street to construct a new headquarters. The following year several architects were invited to compete for the commission to design the building. Although Charleston architect Edward C. Jones was initially declared the winner, federal authorities ultimately awarded the project to Ammi Burnham Young, supervising architect of the United States Treasury Department. Young was selected to produce a new design based on the previous entries of Jones and fellow Charleston architect E.B. White, who also designed the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia.

Construction began in 1853, but was interrupted in 1859 due to increasing costs and the possibility of South Carolina‘s secession from the Union. The building sustained considerable damage during the Civil War and wasn’t repaired until construction resumed in 1870. The new United States Custom House was completed nine years later. It was designated part of the Charleston Historic District in 1960 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Reflections on the United States Custom House

Contributor F. Everett Leigh tell us, “I spent the weekend with my family and had a few hours to take a stroll by myself to the places I remember the most growing up in Charleston. I saw what I think is one of my favorite examples of the marvelous architecture that predates the Civil War at the United States Custom House while there.”

United States Custom House Info

Address: 200 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401

United States Custom House Map

United States Custom House – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of United States Custom House, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!

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One Comment about United States Custom House

ginger thompsonNo Gravatar says:
June 22nd, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Very nice pictures! We can be very proud of our city and its artist!

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