Skip to main content

Winstead Returns Home to Help Celebrate Baltimore Custom House Centennial

Remarks by
 Commissioner David Winstead
Public Buildings Service
U.S. General Services Administration
U.S. Custom House Centennial Celebration
Baltimore, Maryland
December 3, 2007

 

Thank you, Barbara Shelton.

It’s wonderful to be back home for today’s celebration. The Custom House may be a hundred years old, but it is also timeless … a timeless and eloquent reminder of our uniquely American values, spirit and heritage.

There is also personal history here for the Winsteads. My grandfather was the prime exporter of Maryland tobacco leaf throughout the first half of the 20th century. The tobacco was processed through this Custom House and shipped to Europe via The Port of Baltimore.

Many years later, I had the pleasure of serving as Chair of the Maryland Port Commission. And of course I remember with great pride the opening of Harborplace two decades ago. So standing here today proves you can go home again, and that it can be a great experience, even if you’ve changed hats.

As Commissioner of GSA’s Public Buildings Service, I am especially pleased by the work that has kept the Custom House in world-class shape for our agency clients – particularly our lead tenant, the Department of Homeland Security -  as well as those who simply want to visit. We scored nearly 90 percent on our most recent tenant satisfaction survey, which means GSA is fulfilling its mission. When we provide superior workspace, our clients can focus exclusively on their core missions.

And that is clearly the best scenario for the taxpayers.

All of you have my pledge that GSA and PBS will continue on the same path in 2008 and beyond. Repairs to the Custom House’s electrical and other systems were made in the early-1990’s. The grand murals by Francis David Millet were also restored during that time period.

In the jargon of real property experts, the U.S. Custom House is considered a "tier one asset", meaning that it exceeds performance measures in all areas. We want to make sure it stays that way for at least another hundred years.

And that’s not because the PBS Commissioner is from Baltimore. GSA is responsible for more than four hundred historic properties across the nation.

These buildings, magnificent as they may be, are far more than the sum of the materials used to create them. They are monuments to the strength of our people, the power of our ideals, and the dignity of our government.

Thank you very much.