Why is this building significant?
The seven-story, steel-framed U.S. Custom House is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece connected back to New York City’s history as a major international port and situated physically on a pivotal site at the southern terminus of Broadway. Nautical motifs, massive Corinthian colonnades, and sculptures by 12 artists decorate the stone façade. Most prominently, a quartet of statues titled Four Continents and designed by Daniel Chester French flank a grand exterior staircase. The interior features a three-story oval rotunda with murals by the New York artist Reginald Marsh. In 1994 the restored Custom House became the home of the National Museum of the American Indian, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution, with its incomparable collection of native artifacts.
What did the New York Landmarks Conservancy do?
Saving the U.S. Custom House, which was abandoned in 1973, was our first effort to preserve and reuse an historic building. We cooperated with the U.S. General Services Administration and the Custom House Institute, an organization formed by a group of downtown businessmen. Ultimately, we worked with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to convert the building into the museum.