In the aftermath of the War of 1812, the federal government suffered from a lack of fiscal order. To resolve the problems President Madison signed into law the 20-year charter for the Second Bank of the U.S. When the charter expired in January 1836, the bank became a private corporation. It suspended payment in 1839 and was liquidated in 1841.
The building you see before you was Erie’s branch of the newly privatized bank. It was designed by Philadelphia architect William Kelly and completed in 1839. After the parent bank folded in 1841, the building was sold to the U.S. government for use as a Customs Office (1849-1888).