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Ammi B. Young

Supervising Architect of the Treasury and his 1858 Alexandria Post Office and Customhouse

Published in the Summer 1994 issue of the The Alexandria Chronicle, by the Alexandria Historical Society, Inc.

Ammi B. Young, Supervising Architect of the Treasury and his 1858 Alexandria Post Office and Customhouse, page 7 of 16

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Congress became concerned about excessive costs for the south wing project, and blamed Young, patronage and politics being then as they are now. With no Civil Service status, Young lost out. In July 1862, Secretary Chase informed him by letter that his services were no longer needed. Isaiah Rogers had been approached a month earlier for a position similar to Young's, which he accepted. Ammi B. Young spent the last years of his life at his home on Fifteenth Street within sight of the Treasury department, dying there in 1874.


Though there were several customs offices in Alexandria, possibly from as early as 1784, the earliest appointed customs officers were responsible for obtaining their own office space.20 Probably the first customhouse purchased by the United States Government in Alexandria was situated at the southwest corner of King and Union Streets. It was bought in November 1820 for $6,000 and sold in April 1871 for $5,000.

The U.S. Court was held in a building formerly owned by the Bank of Alexandria which the U.S. Government bought and remodeled in 1838. Court met there until “the property was conveyed to the State of Virginia on May 31, 1847.”

Early post offices were located' in various places around town. The first one was probably the George Tavern at the northwest corner of Cameron and North Royal Streets, and then moved from Prince to King Street back to another location on Prince, to Fairfax, to Prince again and to another tavern. "Ye Old Cheshire Cheese."

The Alexandria Post Off ice and Customhouse designed by Young replaced the 1820 purchase, and a gave permanent homes to the post office and the U. S. District Court and the Customhouse. The site at the southwest corner of Prince and South St. Asaph Streets [a parking lot in 19943 was purchased in May 1856 for $16,000, nearly twice the 1820 cost of the King Street location. 23 The frontage on Prince Street was 114 feet, and 97 feet on South St. Asaph. A total of $75,217.50 was appropriated by Congress for construction of the building and by the end of 1856, the contracts, except for the iron work, were let and as much excavation as possible was done before the onset of cold weather." S.T.G. Morsel1 was hired as the site superintendent at $6.00 a day. Construction had reached as far as the third story by September 1857, with hopes of being under cover before winter. It was noted however, that "various causes have retarded the progress of this work beyond the period when it should have been completed. lg2'

Though the contracted completion date was May 1, 1858, the actual date was five months later. At that time, the Post Off ice and Customhouse was completely furnished and occupied, in spite of the fact that additional land had to be

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