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Boston’s Custom House Clock Tower - !

We read a recent article on Boston.com about how it took David Hochstrasser only one hand to push the clock into working again after a 2 week rest.  This article inspired us to do a little bit of research into one of our favorite Boston Landmarks.

Photo Credit: Brown & Wagner, LLC 

 We found out that the site purchase, authorized by President Andrew Jackson in September of 1837, was  to be developed into a custom house. (used for the offices for the officials in charge of keeping track of import and export trades)  

The building was designed by Ammi Burnham Young.   The Quincy quarries were the source for the large pieces of granite (42 tons each) that would become the 36 fluted Doric columns. Each column is just over 5 feet in diameter and 32 feet high.  

1851 Custom House, Boston

Inside, the rotunda had been capped with a skylight dome.

View inside Boston’s Custom House Tower

In 1905, due to increased shipping into and out of Boston, the building needed to be expanded.  By 1915, the tower had been added to the base by Peabody and Stearns, a local architecture firm. At 496 feet, this was the tallest building in Boston at the time.  Even the Old Hancock Building, built in 1947 was one foot shorter than the Custom House Tower.

Peabody  & Stearns Architects
496 feet  -20 stories
The clock, measuring 22 feet across, was originally completed along with the rest of the tower in 1919. Attached to one of Boston’s tallest buildings, the clock was easily visible from the Financial district and served as a central timepiece for people working and living in the area. Due to some malfunction in its motor, the clock did not work throughout most of the 20th century.  In 1985, with funding from Boston Edison, the clock underwent repairs by Hochstrasser and his brother. (more info)
This view of the tower shows it resting on the original 1849 Custom House structure.
The inside of the famous clock atop Custom House Tower
Photo Credit: Jim Davis/Globe Staff 

Photo Credit: 

The United States Customs Service moved in 1986 to the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Federal Building in the West End.  At that time, the Custom House was declared surplus property.  The building remained empty for for 14 years.  In 1997, the Marriot converted the building into an 84-room time-share resort for their Vacation Club International.  The building continues to be enjoyed as  a towering historic landmark with spectacular views of a city steeped in 200 years of American history. 

Other beautiful photos of clock tower that we found; 

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