U.S. Customhouse

200 E. Bay St., Charleston, South Carolina


US Customs House

Photo taken by Michael Miller

View this photo at panoramio.com


Street View 


Both architecturally and historically, the United States Custom House is an outstanding public building. Its continual use as a custom house completes the commercial history of one of the country’s busiest early ports. Construction began in 1853, with Charleston architect E.B. White serving as superintendent architect, but the building was not completed until 1879. The Roman Corinthian order was carried throughout the structure, not only in the pedimented porticos on the east and west fronts, but also the columns decorating the piers between the windows. The plan is a simple cross with one short and one long axis. Originally there was to have been a rotunda with a dome and skylight at the intersection of the cross arm, but apparently this was eliminated as construction of the building was prolonged and became costlier. The basement story is rusticated while the upper wall surfaces are smooth marble. Windows on both floors are rectangular and pedimented, as are the centrally located entrances on each portico. Surmounting the building is an entablature with a molded architrave, a wide unadorned frieze, excepting the “United States Custom House” carved into the west front in 1964, and a dentiled cornice. Above this is an open balustrade, behind which a low pitched roof is barely visible. Listed in the National Register October 9, 1974. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 9, 1974
Reference number
Architectural styles
Early Republic; Other architectural type; Roman revival
Areas of significance
Commerce; Engineering; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Current function
Periods of significance
1875-1899; 1850-1874
Significant years
1853; 1879

Update Log 

  • January 26, 2016: New Street View added by Michael Miller
  • July 28, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description"
  • January 13, 2014: New photos from Michael Miller
  • October 28, 2013: New Street View added by Michael Miller

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