NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — In a commemorative ceremony, City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino announced that the Niagara Falls Customhouse received a marker in dedication on Saturday.
The Customhouse was integrated into the Niagara Falls International Railway Station in 2016 after the city restored it to its former glory back in 2011. Restaino's office says the initiative to save the building was taken when it was listed as one of the state's most endangered historic structures.
The building's original construction began in 1863.
Representatives from the National Railway Historical Society, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation were in attendance for the event.
“The United States Customhouse at Niagara Falls played a prominent role in the exchange of goods across the international border with Canada for nearly 100 years as the primary customs location in the Niagara region,” Restaino said.
“The current integration of the Niagara Falls Customhouse with the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is a further expression of the importance of this location in history. This historic marker will make public the incredible impact of this building and location have had in the advancement of commerce and, most especially, in the fight for freedom.”
Added Sara Beilein Capen, the executive director of Niagara Falls National Heritage Area: "Identifying the U.S. Customhouse with a historic marker is a further testament to the tremendous history that occurred here in Niagara Falls. It was at this location that dozens of people who escaped slavery in the American south crossed into freedom, many under the steadfast and unwavering guidance of Harriet Tubman."
Ally Spongr, the interim director of the Niagara Falls Heritage Area, was also at the event.
"At the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, we recognize the significance of a place when sharing history with the public," Spongr said. "Our visitors have the opportunity to stand inside and outside of the U.S. Customs House, where the Heritage Center is located, to see, and feel, where countless freedom seekers took their last steps before crossing the Suspension Bridge to freedom in Canada."