Jul192015

Marriott’s Custom House Boston

I chuckled inside the other day when a pre-teen boy pointed to the most distinctive historic building on the Boston Waterfront skyline and asked, “Mom, is that Big Ben?”

Custom House Boston

Marriott’s Custom House Boston

Boston’s first skyscraper was built between 1913-15 when a sixteen floor tower was constructed on top of the 1837-47 Boston Custom House. The Boston Custom House was constructed near the end of the city docks by the Federal Government to allow inspection and collection of duties from trading vessels entering the harbor. It opened in 1847.

Boston has had a Custom House on the waterfront since the 1600s. Like most major port cities, the actual water of Boston Harbor’s waterfront these days is several hundred yards away from the historic Custom House, after decades and centuries of landfill. At the time of construction, this land was already landfill on Boston’s waterfront. Clipper ships moored at Long Wharf almost touched the building. The Greek Revival architecture designed by Ammi Burnham Young was originally a four-sided Greek temple with 36 Doric granite columns, each weighing 42 tons, and the building was topped by a dome. The structure is supported by 3,000 wooden piles driven down into bedrock.

Custom House base

Peabody and Sterns designed the tower that sits atop the original structure. When completed in 1915, the Custom House tower was the tallest building in Boston and remained Boston’s tallest skyscraper until 1947.

Custom House Tower

Marriott’s Custom House Vacation Club all-suites property

I was blown away to see this landmark icon near the Boston Waterfront is Marriott’s Custom House Boston, a Marriott Vacation Club property. The extended stay hotel is Marriott Rewards category 9, available for 45,000 points per night. As of today, you can book a one-bedroom suite for the first weekend in August at $399 per night. All rooms are suites.

The property was converted into a Marriott Vacation Club timeshare in 1985. Rooms were renovated in 2009. Currently there is work happening on parts of the tower’s upper exterior, accounting for the netting seen in my photo.

Marriott's Custom House

Inside Marriott’s Boston Custom House

I walked around inside the hotel two days ago, unofficially.

Custom House stone plaque

The first thing I saw inside the entryway is this marble plaque.

Boston Custom House Building

Authorized by the 23rd Congress AD 1835

Andrew Jackson President USA

Levi Woodbury Secretary of the Treasury

Opened August 1 AD 1845

James K. Polk President USA

Robert J. Walker Secretary of the Treasury

Marcus Morton Collector of the Port

Samuel S. Lewis Commissioners

Robert G. Shaw

Custom House Dome

The Greek dome is still visible from inside.

Custom House dome

President Polk visited Boston to mark the opening of the Custom House in 1847 after ten years of construction.

Custom House Rotunda

The second floor rotunda has historical markers, artifacts and paintings describing Boston Harbor’s maritime history.

Custom House rotunda view

View from third floor rotunda level. Reception desk and lobby is in the lower floor level.

Rotunda level patio

The Custom House Tower was constructed between 1913–1915 to provide additional office space needed to handle customs for Boston’s commercial shipping trade.

Rotunda-2

Here is the link to the Marriott’s Custom House website photo gallery for views of rooms.

Cutler Mail Chute

One feature commonly seen inside historic skyscraper buildings is a Cutler mail chute letterbox. James Goold Cutler patented the mail chute letterbox on September 11, 1883 in the era of the first U.S. skyscrapers. He was an architect in Rochester, New York and the first Cutler mail chute was installed in 1884 in the Elwood Building in Rochester, NY. James Goold Cutler and his brother J.W. Cutler managed the Cutler Manufacturing Company, controlling and operating Cutler mail chute patents. James Goold Cutler was mayor of Rochester, New York 1904-07.

Cutler Mail Chute

Cutler mail chute in Marriott’s Custom House Boston. The winged emblem below the words Letter Box is engraved with the words “Cutler Mail Chute Co.”

Marriott’s Custom House Boston is Marriott Rewards Category 9 at 45,000 points per night or 180,000 points for five nights.

Room rates are in the $400 to $650 per night range.

The Custom House is a prominent feature of the Boston Waterfront district.

But not quite Big Ben.

Big Ben

‘Big Ben’ – London

At least as a tourist, you can spend the night in Boston’s ‘Big Ben’ as a guest of Marriott’s Custom House.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

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  1. I stayed here a few years back in the winter during a business trip to Boston. IIRC, the temp outside with windchill was -47 and real windy. Needless to say the heat wasn’t able to keep up – the room was cold and drafty. The location was awesome though.

  2. For future reference you can visit the open air observatory on the top floor every day at 3pm, no need to be a guest. Although do check if they moved the time.

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