The ongoing restoration of the former 1863 U.S. Customs and Post Office building (hereafter, the Custom House) has been in various stages of development since 1987. The Custom House, 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 has been completed in conjunction with the construction of the NEW Niagara Falls Amtrak Station on the adjacent parcel, which was completed and opened in December 2016. The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center will occupy the first floor of the Custom House and the second floor is occupied by offices of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Heritage Center is scheduled to open in March 2018.
The work of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center uncovers the wealth of places and stories associated with the Underground Railroad found within the City of Niagara Falls and surrounding region. The Heritage Center preserves the historic role of the people of Niagara Falls in facilitating freedom for the oppressed. The places and stories associated with this network of freedom seekers, free African Americans, and abolitionists evoke powerful themes in American history and celebrate the bravery of the men and women who risked their own lives to achieve the most basic rights of liberty. The purpose of the Heritage 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 Heritage Center will also provide a foundation for future heritage development projects in Niagara Falls.
For further information on where you can experience the stories of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, please visit the "UGRR Sites" page on our website, and the "Freedom Crossing Exhibit" page. The Freedom Crossing Exhibit is located at one of our partner sites, the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center, 1201 Pine Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY.
On July 30th, 2016, we hosted the Community Day event at the Niagara Falls Amtrak Station that attracted people from all over the Western New York Region and beyond! Over 1,500 people came out to check out the new Amtrak Station and future home of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
You can see the full album of photos from Community Day on our Flickr page. Stay tuned for future programming and events coming to the Niagara Falls Amtrak Station!