U.S. Custom House - a Two Time Award Winner
GSA’s U.S. Custom House restoration project in Portland, Maine, received the 2014 Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation by the Greater Portland Landmarks (GPL) and the statewide Historic Preservation Honor Award for Restoration by Maine Preservation.
GPL praised the project team for their ideal demonstration of how historic preservation and environmentally sustainable practices can be integrated to enhance building performance. Criteria included preservation excellence in saving the buildings, landscapes, interiors and design details that define Greater Portland's historic character. Maine Preservation applauded the team's leadership in historic rehabilitation and craft.
In addition to being fully restored and 30% more energy efficient, this once single tenant building now houses multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and GSA.
Listed on National Register of Historic Places, the Custom House was constructed between 1867-1872. Designed in a richly articulated style combining Second Empire and Revival, it’s no surprise that it stands out as one of Portland’s best public buildings. Located near the waterfront, it was built to accommodate the city's growing customs business, which, by 1866, was collecting $900,000 annually in customs duties - making Portland one of the most significant seaports in the country.
The preservation of this highly significant building was threatened by interior and exterior deterioration, including roof, windows, granite, decorative plaster and walnut woodwork. The damage was also undermining the building’s energy performance.
In 2010, GSA began a 3-year restoration and repair project. The architect, general contractor and subcontractors, as well as all materials used are from Maine.
Thanks to the work of many, the U.S. Custom House now stands proudly as it did generations ago, uses less energy and is home to new tenants.
Detail of staircase - photos courtesy CCB, Inc.