Way Back Wednesday: The United States Custom House

Way Back Wednesday

Charleston, S.C. (WCBD) – It’s Wednesday and that means it is time to explore the history that surrounds the Lowcountry. This week, we head to downtown Charleston to learn about the United States Custom House.

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History describes the U.S. Custom House as an “architecturally and historically outstanding public building”.

According to the U.S General Services Administration, in the mid-nineteenth century, the U.S. Customs Service had outgrown its offices on East Bay Street. In 1847, increased trade activity motivated Congress to appropriate funds for the purchase of a new site. The waterfront area on the Cooper River was bought in 1849 for $130,000.

The Library Of Congress: Custom House Under Construction, 1860.

“By 1859, the walls and columns had been constructed, but Congress, concerned about escalating costs and the possibility of South Carolina secession, did not appropriate funds needed to complete construction.”

U.S General Services Administration

Additionally, the building suffered considerable damage during the Civil War which delayed progress. It was eventually completed in 1879 with Charleston architect E.B. White serving as the superintendent architect.

The U.S. Custom House was entered on the National Register of Historic Places on October 9, 1974. Today, the building still functions as it was originally intended.

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