The San Juan Customs House is one of the buildings in Old San Juan that is part of the National Register of Historic Places. It was established on the islet of San Juan in the 18th century. However, the current building was built by order of the United States government in 1924. The structure displays a plateresque style that is characterized by Gothic and Renaissance elements.
The building was designed by Albert B. Nichols, architect and building inspector for the Puerto Rico field office of the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury. The structure consists of two levels. The first floor and part of the central section were built in 1924. Later, a second floor was added and the façade was altered. The construction was completed in 1931.
The building is rectangular in shape and contains an interior patio. Most of the structure was built of reinforced concrete, including the beams, the floors, the columns and the roof of the tower. The main building has a roof with two gables that uses wood trusses and terracotta tiles.
The structure includes plateresque characteristics such as the use of ornamental elements that are independent from the structure and are concentrated on the entrance, in contrast with the restrained surfaces around it. These ornamental elements are made of terracotta and adorn the façade and interior of the building. They present motifs allegorical to the federal government and to the use of the building, such as eagles, United States flags, ships, planes and coats of arms.
The main façade faces the port. The building is accessed through two doors: one for vehicles, one for pedestrians. The latter is made of forged iron and has a clock tower, a Spanish tradition, on each of its sides. The building has undergone few changes since its construction was completed.
Adapted by the PROE Editorial Group
Original source: Catalog of Properties, Nacional Register of Historic Places, State Office of Historic Conservation, Office of the Governor, 1995.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 08, 2014.
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