The Custom House
The Custom House at Salem Maritime NHS is the last of 13 Custom Houses in the city. There has been a Custom House in Salem since 1649, collecting taxes on imported cargos first for the British Government during the Colonial period, then for the American Government after the establishment of the
The Custom House symbolized the Federal Government's presence in Salem, requiring the architects to design an impressive building. High ceilings, a sweeping staircase, and beautifully carved woodwork all contribute to a feeling of strength and stability. The Salem Custom House was used by the U. S. Customs Service into the 1930s, and the furnishings reflect the long use of the building.
In 1826, a wooden eagle was placed on the roof. It was carved by Salem craftsman Joseph True, and its original cost was $50.00. In 2004, the original eagle was replaced with a fiberglass replica. After several years of conservation work, the Joseph True eagle will be going on display in the Custom House in 2007.
For More Information:
The Custom House is open daily by tour. For tour infomation, see Visiting Salem Maritime
Issues of Salem Maritime’s occasional newsletter, Pickled Fish and Salted Provisions
On International Trade:
Did You Know?
In 1799, Salem native Nathaniel Bowditch revised John H. Moore's New Practical Navigator, the standard navigation manual of the 18th century. Bowditch discovered and corrected over 8,000 errors in Moore's manual! In 1802, Bowditch published the New American Practical Navigator.