United States Custom House Windows
New Orleans, Louisiana
The U.S. Custom House in New Orleans is one of the oldest and most important federal buildings in the southern United States and one of the major works of architecture commissioned by the federal government in the nineteenth century. This monumental granite building was begun in 1848 and built over a period of 33 years. The impressive exterior of the U.S. Custom House retains its original design, which includes modified Greek and Egyptian Revival elements. The immense four-story building occupies the full trapezoidal downtown city block bounded by Canal, North Peters, Iberville, and Decatur Streets. Due to the shape of the lot, the corner of the building at Canal and North Peters Streets is rounded. The majority of the building is constructed of brick sheathed in gray granite from Quincy, Massachusetts, and the entablature material is cast iron. Each of the four facades is similar in design. In the center of each facade is a projecting pavilion consisting of four round, fluted, modified Egyptian, engaged columns. The exterior windows date most likely from 1886 and 1917, and are constructed from cedar, which rendered them moisture and insect decay resistant.
Building upon our award winning effort to restore the Custom House in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, PDG collaborated with the Louisiana State and GSA Historic Preservation Offices to undertake a comprehensive window survey study followed by a rehabilitation plan for all exterior wood windows.
The rehabilitation effort started with the careful interior and exterior inspection, investigation and documentation of the physical condition of all exterior windows and doors. A historical paint analysis was performed and identified twelve layers of intact paint. The window condition survey found that most of the windows were in fair condition, but also identified areas of rain water infiltration to the interior of the building, and documented splintered window wood members, damaged glazing and hardware and missing caulking.
PDG Architects developed a rehabilitation plan following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation to improve the longevity and effectiveness of the windows. All windows were restored in place to avoid potential damage caused by their removal: new metal flashing was installed, wood members were repaired and consolidated, caulking and broken glass was replaced. Old paint was gently removed and a new coat of paint was applied to complete the rehabilitation effort.