Underground Railroad Interpretive Center

The ongoing restoration of the former U.S. Customs and Post Office building (hereafter, the Customhouse) has been in various stages of development since 1987. The Customhouse, located at 2245 Whirlpool Street opposite the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, was built in 1863. The building fell into disrepair after being sold by the U.S. Customs Office in 1962. In 1973, the Customhouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was acquired by the City of Niagara Falls in 2003, after which it was designated a landmark by the Niagara Falls Historic Preservation Commission.

Restoration of the Customhouse is currently underway in association with the proposed construction of the International Railway Station/Intermodal Transportation Center (IRS/ITC) on the adjacent parcel, which is scheduled to be completed in 2013. After restoration of the Customhouse is completed, a portion of the first floor will house an Underground Railroad Interpretive Center and the second floor will be occupied by offices of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The purpose of the Interpretive Center is to provide a gateway to the important Underground Railroad and anti-slavery history of the area, and direct visitors to visit other local and regional attractions. The Interpretive Center will also provide a foundation for future heritage development projects in Niagara Falls.