OLD CUSTOMS HOUSE .
Memphis, Tennessee . 6
x 8 1/2" x 6" tall
This U.S. Customs House stood proudly on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River at Memphis, Tennessee. The two towers of the building were a landmark to the river boats and the Front Street facade of the building made a dramatic backdrop for the bustle of Madison Avenue.
The original building was built in 1876 by architect James G. Hill. It was a grand building and one of the proudest structures in the city. The Customs House and its next door neighbor, the Cossitt Library were the two most distinctive architectural landmarks in the city. This model represents the ORIGINAL Customs House building as it was, circa 1876. At this time the river front facade was almost identical to the Front Street facade. And of course the flag flying on the model is a 45 star flag.
first renovation of the building was in 1903. The architect James Knox Taylor
did nothing to change the structure's appearance from the Madison Avenue side
and relatively little from the river. He simply added an extended block of a
building on the back river side that looked as if it could have been there
from the beginning (
This is the extension that is shown most in vintage post cards of Memphis).
It blended so perfectly with the original design that most folks aren't aware if
they're looking at the original building or the first remodel.
This remodel actually
size of the building.
Artist Gene Gill lived in Memphis for his first 21 years, and like most "older" Memphians never actually saw the grand old Customs House, but he grew to love it from the thousands of postcards still around. This miniature is one of very few that he has built of a building that is no longer in existence. He chose to build it as it originally was around 1870 - before any additions or alterations. Minor exceptions were taken for the landscaping, simply for aesthetic reasons.
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