Historic Building Film Series
Federal agencies have a mandate to promote and encourage an understanding of our nation’s heritage. The award-winning GSA Historic Building Film Series is one way the Center for Historic Buildings supports this effort.
Each film documents preservation in action at a property listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The films explore the history and significance of each featured building, and visually document the rehabilitation work in progress. The documentaries include interviews of architects and project managers, to create an historical record to guide future preservation and stewardship decisions.
Funding for the series comes from the revenue generated by leasing underutilized space in historic buildings to nonfederal clients. The series is produced by the GSA Office of Communications for the GSA Center for Historic Buildings, Office of the Chief Architect, Public Buildings Service.
The Center for Historic Building Documentary Series
Here is a listing of our complete series of Historic Building documentaries; click the title of the video you want to watch to get started:
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, New York, New York
"100 Years of Grandeur: Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House" [Running time: 17:28]
Cass Gilbert's winning design for the Custom House not only transformed his fortunes as an architect; it expressed the ideals of "the City Beautiful" in the American center of commerce.
Byron R. White U.S. Courthouse, Denver, Colorado
"A Poem in Marble, A Place on the Map: Byron R. White U.S. Courthouse" [Running time: 19:30]
How did a once majestic structure recover from "crude renovations...[and] heartless attempts to modernize and expand?"
Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse and Custom House, Louisville, KY
"An American Classic: Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse and Custom House" [Running time: 16:35]
This courthouse played witness to some historic cases, including Muhammad Ali filing his civil case against the Selective Service Board because of his religious beliefs. Later on, this Depression-era, Classical Revival style federal building would go through its own fight to retain its historical features.
Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse, Cleveland, Ohio
"Power & Poetry: Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse" [Running time: 18:30]
Learn about the Beaux-Arts building that heralded the beginning of the City Beautiful movement in Cleveland, is home to sculptures by Daniel Chester French (creator of the Lincoln Memorial), and saw the conviction of Eugene V. Debs for sedition.
John W. McCormack U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, Boston, Massachusetts
"Boston's Dazzling Cliff: John W. McCormack U.S. Post Office and Courthouse" [Running time: 16:26]
When it was completed, this art deco skyscraper was hailed by one architectural critic as “a dazzling cliff, glimpsed unexpectedly across narrow streets.” A rehabilitation project completed in 2009 preserved its original beauty, while at the same time creating sustainable features that will ensure its future.
Pioneer Courthouse, Portland, Oregon
"At the Forefront of Adventure and Architecture: Pioneer Courthouse" [Running time: 17:59]
The Pioneer Courthouse is widely considered the most historically significant building in the Pacific Northwest. It is the oldest federal building in the region and the second oldest federal courthouse west of the Mississippi River.
U.S. Courthouse, Natchez, Mississippi
"A Homecoming in Natchez: U.S. Courthouse, Natchez, Mississippi" [Running time:18:08]
The film chronicles the 1853 building's storied history as a dance hall, VFW dance hall, and even a buggy museum and its current life as a federal courthouse.
U.S. Custom House, New Orleans, Louisiana
"Restoring a Treasure: U.S. Custom House, New Orleans" [Running time: 18:20]
How did this beautiful building recover from Hurricane Katrina?
U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
"A Monument Reborn: The U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" [Running time: 15:29]
How do you transform a classically-designed Depression era post office into a secure, sustainable home for six state of the art courtrooms? Learn how this ambitious full-scale renovation proceeded while the building’s tenants continued to do business.
U.S. Tax Court Building, Washington DC
"Victor Lundy: Sculptor of Space" [Running time: 48:57]
Listen to modern master architect and artist Victor Lundy as he describes his process in designing historic U.S. Tax Court Building in Washington D.C., a paragon of Federal Modernism.
GSA Regional Documentaries
In 2015, GSA's Great Lakes region released the following film.
Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building, Cleveland, Ohio
"Modernism Renewed" [Running time: 31:02]
The 37-story tower was constructed in 1967 as part of the nation's largest urban renewal project. Today, it represents the hopes and challenges of the modern era, as well as the possibility for renewal through the new design solution of double cladding.
Awards & Honors
GSA's historic building documentaries have won multiple awards from the film and communications industries:
- 2007 National Association of Government Communicators Gold Screen Award - Portland
- 2006 Telly Awards: 2 Bronze, 1 Silver – Pioneer
- 2005 Aurora Award - Louisville
- 2005 Telly Awards: 3 Bronze, 1 Silver - Louisville
- 2004 National Association of Government Communicators Gold Screen Award - Louisville