Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
The New York Landmarks Conservancy was pleased to offer its Professional Circle members a tour of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. The tour provided an in-depth look at the building’s unique architecture and exquisite beauty and was led by Museum Ambassador, Lois Kaminsky.
Did you know you can visit the Custom House and the National Museum of the American Indian for FREE, plan your visit now.
The museum is open most days from 10 AM–5 PM.
Designed by Cass Gilbert, and constructed between 1902 and 1907, the Custom House is considered to be a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. Lavish sculptures, paintings, and decorations by well-known artists including Daniel Chester French, Louis St. Gaudens, and Albert Jaegers, embellish the facade, the two-story entry portico, the main hall parallel to the facade, the Rotunda, and the Collector’s Reception Room.
As its first challenge, the Landmarks Conservancy took on determining the fate of the Custom House left vacant by the U.S. Customs Service after its 1973 move to the World Trade Center. The project to convert it to new uses was conducted by the Conservancy with cooperation of the U.S. General Services Administration and sponsored by the Custom House Institute, an organization formed by a group of downtown business leaders. The Conservancy was empowered by the G.S.A. to direct efforts to develop plans for the preservation and reuse of the building. More than two decades after it was vacated, the restored Custom House took on a new life when the National Museum of the American Indian with its incomparable collection of native artifacts opened in the public spaces in 1994.
The Custom House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. In 1979, New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission made the exterior and public interior spaces a city landmark.
Click on the video link below to view the Conservancy’s “Tourist In Your Own Town” video to learn more about the building and the museum.
Are you interested in joining the Professional Circle?
Throughout the year, Circle tours go behind-the-scenes of some of New York’s most interesting historic properties. Some tours require hard hats to visit projects during restoration, while others showcase completed restorations of commercial buildings, residences, museums, churches, and synagogues. On occasion, conservators, engineers, and craftspeople open their studios to our Circle members.