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Custom-House, Galveston, Texas: Theodore R. Davis for Harpers Weekly, 1866

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  • Title: Custom House, Galveston Texas
  • Author: Theodore R. Davis for Harpers Weekly
  • Date: 1866
  • Condition: See bottom of description
  • Inches: 9 1/4 x 4 1/4 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 23.49 x 10.79 [Image]
  • Product ID: 308134

Woodblock engraving of the Galveston Custom House, also known as the "Old Customhouse".

From the TSHA Handbook: This Greek Revival-style two-story red brick structure at Twentieth and Post Office streets, was constructed between 1858 and 1861. The customhouse was designed in 1854 by United States Treasury architect Ammi B. Young and is thought to be the first Galveston building designed by an architect. Contractors Charles Blaney Cluskey and Edwin Ward Moore altered Young's design; the building was completed by contractors Blaisdell and Emerson. The rectangular structure, with projecting double gallery on the west side and inset double galleries on the north and south sides, also housed a post office and the United States district court. Much of the building, which has cast-iron columns, cornices, balustrades, window architraves, and other wrought-iron features, was fabricated in the north and shipped to the site.

Construction was interrupted by a yellow fever epidemic in 1858, and the building was not completed until the eve of the Civil War. It was used only briefly before the outbreak of the war, when it was turned over to the Confederacy. During the conflict it probably took shelling during the battle of Galveston in 1863 and was the site of a "bread riot" initiated by wives of absent Confederate soldiers who stormed the building demanding flour. On June 2, 1865, Union forces took symbolic possession of the site by raising a flag, and the war officially ended three days later.

Visual documents of early Texas are extremely scarce, and highly prized by collectors and institutions alike.

References: Fig. 5.111, Kelsey and Hutchison, Engraved Prints of Texas 1554-1900, TSHA Handbook accessed on line 3-17-2023.

Condition: Trimmed from sheet, mild age toning (photo has a shadow).