Designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument and U.S. Treasury Building, the Custom House was built in 1835 to facilitate growing overseas trade and tax collection of imported goods on the waterfront. The vaulted ceilings and cantilevered staircases are hallmarks of Mills’s work.
As Newburyport declined as a commercial seaport, the Custom House took on a number of new roles, from manufacturing site for heels of women’s shoes, to storage area of submarine parts (a function that left significant cracks in our marble floor!). The Newburyport Maritime Society was founded to restore the building to its nineteenth-century appearance.
Now the Custom House is an extraordinary maritime museum, an educational center, a research facility, and a meeting place for people seeking a unique venue for professional or social gatherings.
The Custom House Maritime Museum is managed by the Newburyport Maritime Society, Inc. The Society was established in 1968 for the purpose of protecting, preserving, and communicating the maritime heritage of the Merrimack Valley and its role in American history. We are connecting the past to the living history of today through new relationships with local artistic, business and environmental organizations.