The 1861 United States Customs House

Currently listed for sale, this renovated historic building is the former home of a custom house, post office and court facilities for U.S. District Courts.

By Donna Gable Hatch
Custom House 

Are you looking for a unique and luxurious living experience that also immerses you in local history? Look no further than the U.S. Customs House in downtown Galveston. This stunning building, constructed in 1861 with imported brick and structural wrought iron, offers a rare opportunity to own a piece of history while enjoying modern amenities.

“It’s very important to preserve our history,” said realtor VJ Tramonte of Tramonte Realty, who holds the listing for the magnificent property. “For its size, Galveston has some of the most historical properties built before 1900 anywhere in the US and this one is very historically important.”

The main building has approximately 25 rooms, including offices, meeting rooms, and a reception area. The Federal courtroom on the second floor has been converted into luxurious living quarters, complete with hardwood floors, granite countertops, tile work, spectacular ceilings, bathrooms, kitchen and chandeliers.

Imagine waking up every morning in the grandeur of the courtroom, now transformed into a spacious bedroom with all the comforts of modern living, Tramonte said.

As you enter the property, you're greeted by well-manicured grounds that offer a serene and peaceful setting. The large balconies on the second floor provide breathtaking views of the downtown Galveston historical buildings, and the modern elevator takes you from the first floor to the second with ease.

Additionally, the property includes approximately 10,000 square feet of parking space and a quaint caretaker's living quarters above an extra-large two-car garage.

Custom House

Custom House


Located at 1917 Postoffice Street, the U.S. Customs House is ideally situated within a short walking distance to the Grand 1894 Opera House, numerous restaurants, art galleries, and charming antique stores in a vibrant and lively area.


The Customs House has a fascinating history, having been under federal ownership from 1861 until it was sold almost 150 years later. During the Civil War, it was occupied by the Confederate Army, and in 1865, it was the site of the ceremony that officially ended the war in Galveston.

Custom house


In 1999, the Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) signed a long-term lease with the U.S. General Services Administration to use the Customs House as its headquarters and began a $1.5 million major renovation project on it. The GHF purchased the property from the General Services Administration in late 2009.

The property was later sold to DSW Homes, one of the premier experts in the disaster recovery industry, and which helps communities, including Galveston, recover in the wake of natural disasters.

The Customs House is a significant landmark in Galveston, and GHF remained dedicated to its preservation and stewardship.

“Joe Tramonte Realty had the original listing with the GHF when one of my agents, Hudson Holmes, sold it to DSW Homes,” said Tramonte, who was born and raised on the island by parents who were also native Galvestonians.

“Once I learned DSW Homes had recently vacated the building, I contacted them to offer my real estate services. I received the listing and am very honored to be selected as the listing agent.”

The realty firm is noted for not only selling many residential historical properties but also many historical commercial properties.

Tramonte's extensive knowledge of the local real estate market and dedication to his clients make him the perfect agent to handle this unique and historic property. Owning and living in one of the oldest buildings on Galveston Island is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Tramonte can help make that dream a reality.

This remarkable property is ideally located and offers a unique combination of historical charm and modern luxury, he said.

“It’s still an office designed concept that GHF and DSW Homes used, but there are a variety of other uses available. One mentioned quite often by prospective buyers has been to develop into a boutique-type hotel and condos,” Tramonte said.

“The extra added value to this unique listing is that you not only get the Customs House building and its grounds but also the two lots at 1916 Church Street (10,000 square feet) with the two-car garage and efficiency apartment; plenty of room for additional parking.”

Tramonte said it’s a building like no other, and those who have vision and dreams have an opportunity to turn them into a reality.

“It offers the continued usage of a 160-plus-year-old building that has weathered major hurricanes throughout its history but remains as one of the most beautiful, well-built structures on Galveston Island.”

For more information on this listing contact VJ Tramonte at 409.765.9837 or visit