The landmark on the Charlotte/Greece border was built in the 1800s.
The Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society, new owners of the historic U.S. Custom House at 10 Latta Road, recently received a $1,700 award from the Landmark Society of Western New York’s Preservation Grant Program. The grant will be used to prepare measured drawings by Bero Architecture PLLC of the old Custom House.
“The Landmark Society’s support will allow us to literally chart a course of action – through the creation of measured drawings – for adapting the Custom House into an educational center for the interpretation of Rochester’s maritime heritage,” said Robert L. Owens, Jr., president of the society.
Tapecon, Inc. vacated the building last summer and donated it to the society. Originally built as a warehouse, the frame structure was leased and expanded by the federal government to collect duties on imported goods arriving at the port. At this site, thousands of immigrants entered the county; revenue was collected to help America’s expansion west; and, Rochester exported the produce and products of the Genesee Valley. Since then, the building has supported a number of different uses; no drawings exist of the structure showing its current configuration.
The society intends to adapt the building for use as an educational center on the history of the riverfront and lakeshore to complement the lessons already taught at the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse that stands just one block away also at the Port of Rochester.
The two-story frame structure, circa 1840, served as the launching site for some of the Port of the Genesee’s most heavily traded products, like lumber, and hosted stores to provide the vital supplies needed by ships using this U.S. port before the Civil War. After fire destroyed the first custom house in 1869, the government moved both its customs operations and post office into the building where both federal functions served the harbor from the 1870s into the 20th century.
The 3,600-sq.ft. structure also boasts original Eastlake-style details at the peaks of its gables and around the upper windows that will be restored under the supervision of Bero Architecture PLLC, which will oversee the adaptation of the building. In addition to the exterior restoration, plans now under development for the interior include creating new exhibition space, a climate-controlled storage area for the Society’s collections, classrooms and a dedicated space for its books and archives on the history of the port, Charlotte, and the Great Lakes that will also be open to the public. The renovations will be accomplished in phases over the next three to five years.