Built Heritage: The Registry of the Supreme Court Building, Formerly Customs House Warehouse and Town Hall.
BUILT HERITAGE: October 2021 By Linda Abend and Margie Lloyd, Bermuda National Trust
This post is part of a series of architectural articles by the Bermuda National Trust that highlight some of Bermuda’s endangered historic buildings.
The Customs House Warehouse and Town Hall was one of the first buildings erected in the newly-incorporated town of Hamilton. Located on the corner of the First Longitudinal and Fourth Cross streets (now Front and Court), it was completed by June 1794 and was the first of three public buildings. The two-storey building was designed for use as the Customs House Warehouse on the ground floor and the Town Hall on the upper level. On 8 January 1795 the first election was held for Hamilton’s mayor, aldermen and councillors. From 1815, when the capital was moved from St George’s, until 1821, when the Sessions House was built, the Town Hall was also used for meetings of the House of Assembly and Supreme Court. A few years later the Customs House section was altered when two large doors replaced the one small door so that bulky cargo could easily be brought in for inspection and storage. Around the same time a two-storey addition on the northwest side was built. This was later used to house the Hand Fire Engine and sleeping quarters for the Engine Keeper.
In 1841 the third public building now known as the Cabinet Building was completed and Customs moved into new quarters. They remained there until around 1850 when, for reasons unknown, they moved to warehouses further west on Front Street. The old Customs House premises became barracks for the 20th Regiment and grocery stores.