Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Newburyport in Essex County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Newburyport Custom House

 
 
Newburyport Custom House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Doran Howitt, September 11, 2021
1. Newburyport Custom House Marker
Inscription.  
The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of the Newburyport Custom House

The Custom House collected federal taxes on international imports during the peak of Newburyport’s maritime trade era, and went into a drastic decline for nearly a century after the bankruptcy of a single local company in 1879.

The Newburyport Custom House was designed by Robert Mills, one of the first professionally trained architects in America, and built in 1835 for the Federal Government to collect taxes on merchandise imported by ships from abroad. These import duties were the primary source of revenue for the American government for much of the 19th century.

The Custom House was at the center of Newburyport's maritime business for the next four decades. Tbe primary source of revenue was the sugar and molasses traded for New England salted cod and imported from the brutal slave plantations of the West Indies. Custom officers also collected duties on a diverse range of imported goods, e.g., salt, sail cloth, iron, cordage and wine from Western Europe and Russia, and fabrics, spices, and fine pottery from India, Southeast Asia and China. After 1850, imports
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
Click or scan to see
this page online
became steadily less diversified and came primarily from Nova Scotia and the West Indies, as ships imported foreign goods to larger ports like Boston. Receipts reached a peak in 1875 when more than $100,000 was collected in duties-equivalent to about $2 million today-primarily from molasses and sugar imported by Bayley & Son.

But then, after operating for nearly 50 years, Bayley & Son went bankrupt and was dissolved in 1879, and the Custom House's receipts plunged. At the same time, the construction of the Newburyport City Railroad and the consequent infilling of wharves cut off the Custom House from the shoreline and completely transformed Newburyport's waterfront and local economy. The volume of foreign trade flowing through the Custom House declined so drastically that it cost far more to operate than was collected. During the next 23 years, the Custom House collected a total of only $3,509 at a cost of $13,800 for the collection officers. Some years saw no vessels at all from foreign ports.

Checkoway's Junk Yard which included a dismantled surplus Navy submarine. The building became dilapidated, and in 1968 the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority took the building and began its rehabilitation. Today, the Custom House is leased by the non-profit Newburyport Maritime Society. The Society operates the Custom House Maritime Museum to preserve and communicate
Paid Advertisement
Click on the ad for more information.
Please report objectionable advertising to the Editor.
the maritime heritage of Newburyport and the legacy of the U.S. Coast Guard. The museum is open to the public, and displays original objects from Newburyport's maritime trade era including art, maps, journals, and ship models.

Captions:
Far left: The Newburyport Custom House circa 1975
Photograph by Bill Lane, Image courtesy of Newburyport Public Library Archival Center, Lane Collections

Near left: The Checkoway Junk Yard at the Custom House circa 1970 Photograph by Bill Lane, Image courtesy of Newburyport Public Library Archival Center, Lane Collections

Background text: June 14, 1797 cargo manifest for William Bartlet’s brig Edmund bound for Hispaniola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Image courtesy of the Custom House Maritime Museum

Background image: Casks of sugar, molasses and coffee from the West Indies unloaded from schooners at Bayley’s Wharf on Water Street for inspection by the Customs Collector circa 1875.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Old Newbury
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1835.
 
Location. 42° 48.748′ N, 70° 52.081′ W. Marker is in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in Essex County. Marker can be reached from Water Street east of Ferry Wharf, on the left when traveling east. Located on Newburyport Harbor Walk, a pedestrian-only walkway. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 25 Water Street, Newburyport MA 01950, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Newburyport Sailor's Memorial (a few steps from this marker); Coast Guard Bicentennial Marker (within shouting distance of this marker); Newburyport Firehouse Center (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Market Square Tea Burning (about 700 feet away); Watts' Cellar (about 700 feet away); The Memory of the Officers and Men (approx. ¼ mile away); William Lloyd Garrison (approx. 0.3 miles away); Dalton House (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newburyport.
 
Also see . . .
1. Custom House Maritime Museum. (Submitted on September 22, 2021, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
2. United States Customhouse (Newburyport, Massachusetts) – Wikipedia. (Submitted on September 22, 2021, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
 
Additional keywords. Taxation, Shipping
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 22, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 12, 2021, by D Howitt of Bergen County, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 217 times since then and 18 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on September 12, 2021, by D Howitt of Bergen County, New Jersey. • Michael Herrick was the editor who published this page.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide view photo of the marker and its surroundings. • Can you help?

Share this page.  
Share on Tumblr
m=181628

CeraNet Cloud Computing sponsors the Historical Marker Database.
This website earns income from purchases you make after using our links to Amazon.com. We appreciate your support.
Paid Advertisement
Apr. 21, 2024