You are here
Erie Art Museum (Old Custom House) and Erie County Historical Society (Cashier's House)
Admirers of Greek Revival architecture will find two spectacular examples next door to each other on State Street. The temple-fronted Old Custom House, which was aptly based on the Theseion in Athens (449 BCE), a temple dedicated to the gods of trade and the arts, has over the years housed a bank, a customs house, and now an art museum. The building sits on a podium to raise it above street level, and a marble staircase leads to its oversized double doors. Six Doric columns support a wide entablature and pediment of white Vermont marble. Architectural historian Talbot Hamlin in Greek Revival Architecture in America (1944) describes William Kelly's design as vital, sensitive, and archaeologically correct.
The L-shaped former Cashier's House just south housed the president of the bank. It is a severe and handsome Greek Revival town house, three bays wide with a side hall and windows graduating from the largest on the first story to the smallest on the third. The paneled door is outlined with pilasters, a rectangular transom, and a tall entablature echoed in the cornice that concludes the building's facade. Though made of brick, the building is stuccoed and scored to emulate stone. The interior includes elaborate Egyptian Revival decorative motifs in the public rooms. Today, the building is operated as a historic house museum by the Erie County Historical Society.
If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.
SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.