NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 22, 2013

A surprise visit to the Custom House

(Continued)

He was given a key so he could enter and lock the building as was necessary for him. He actually was renting it for space. One lucky day, I was with Mr. Checkoway, and he needed to open the front door of the Custom House to store some demolition materials. He took me along as a helper and that was my opportunity to see it from the inside. Everything about it had been a puzzle to me ā€“ until then!

We walked up the granite steps, and I watched, somewhat nervously, as he reached for the key and unlocked the door. My heart was racing. I was nervous and maybe even a little scared of what we may find inside.

When we got inside, it was as though the building could talk to me. It was in marvelous condition, and I saw in there many wares that seemed to be from the Civil War era. I stood there in the middle of the floor, enough daylight streaming in from the windows, and I looked up and around at its walls and ceiling and felt the building could almost speak to me.

I have heard it rumored sadly that it was discussed, and it was seriously considered by some people in this city some years back, to raze it. But, I personally think that when they considered how costly it would be and how difficult it would be to take it down, they thought better of it and reconsidered dismantling it and left it alone. It survived on its own ā€“ its beauty and strength defying the very people who wanted to abolish it.

Today, it is a historical maritime museum ā€“ irreplaceable. It has become a gift for the people to come and view it and to learn from it. Iā€™m sure you, too, will be quite taken by it especially when you enter it and picture it in its heyday in those glorious years -- when it functioned truly as a Custom House. People, adults and children from wherever they come, now have the pleasure and the right to visit it and witness its beauty and glory of its time past.

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