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Customs House

A site in Flinders Street, opposite the Queens wharf turning basin, has been an allocated customs reserve since 1835. The original brownstone Customs House was built in the 1840s, but the increase in trade brought about by the gold rush led the Victorian Government in 1854 to commission architect Peter Kerr, in conjunction with John Knight and Thomas Kemp, to design a replacement. Shortage of funds forced Customs to occupy the incomplete building from 1858 until 1876, when, redesigned by the architect John Clark in the Renaissance Revival style, the Customs House took on the form in which it appears today. In the 19th century customs revenue was the main source of government income. Officers stationed in this building recorded all goods entering or leaving the colony and controlled immigration. Vacated by Customs in 1965, the building was used as offices for the Commonwealth Parliament. A restoration program, completed in 1998, saw later additions removed and architectural features such as tiled floors, moulded ceilings and timber details reinstated, with the building reopening as the Immigration Museum.

Peter Christiansen