Filling the entire block bounded by Barrow, Greenwich, Washington, and Christopher Streets, the Archive Building sits on an irregularly shaped lot more than an acre in size. Construction began in 1892 and was completed in 1899. The massive building reflected the Far West Village’s transition from earlier light residential use to a more commercial and industrial character that would remain for much of the twentieth century.
The building, originally termed the U.S. Appraisers’ Warehouse, was used by the U.S. Customs Service to assess the tariffs on goods arriving in New York via ship. After the Federal income tax was instituted in 1913, revenue generated by import tariffs was no longer a crucial component of the Federal budget and by the 1930s the building was reconfigured into office space for the National Archives, a post office, and other Federal agencies.
In 1973, the Archive Building was recognized by the State and National Register of Historic Places, but by 1976 the federal government deemed the building to be government surplus property and its future was in jeopardy. However a deal was successfully arranged to preserve the structure by transferring ownership to the New York State Urban Development Corporation. The UDC in turn leased the property to Rockrose Properties for residential conversion. The renovation of the current Archive Building was completed in 1988. It was one of the earlier examples of preservation by commercial conversion into residences in the city.