The Palazzo dell’Archivio of Torcello is of ancient origins, it was bought in 1887 by Cesare Augusto Levi with the aim of turning it into a place for collecting historical and artistic material of the island, alongside the nearby Palazzo del Consiglio.
The building is composed of a single upper floor - accessed by a staircase - and the ground floor with a portico with by four pillars supporting the façade. It is believed that the building once resembled that of the Council, including the turret on the roof, and that between the two palaces - the Council and the Archive - once existed a third building that today no longer exists: the Palace Pretorio, or del Podestà (‘of which still remains a cornerstone’, wrote Nicolò Battaglini in 1874).
The upper floor is adorned with a Venetian-Byzantine three-light window and distinguished by a single room that was once used as an archive - hence the name of the building - by the Bishopric of Torcello. It was located here until 1818, the year in which it was the Diocese of Torcello was abolished and the contents were transferred to the State Archives of Venice, whose historic documentation is now missing.
The building, which underwent various restoration works and some partial demolitions and reconstructions from the 13th century, was significantly restructured to make it safe and suitable to be opened to the public (‘reduced to a pigsty, Battaglini wrote in 1874). In particular, seeing as the beams were ruined by saltiness, the roof and two walls of the upper floor were completely redone while the eastern windows were walled up. As regards the portico below, the external staircase built by Levi was demolished and rebuilt as it appeared in 1824, in order to reopen the two arches opposite that had been found almost intact under the plaster, reopening the 16th century access door that had been closed.
Upon completion of the restoration work, the Archive Building was donated to the Province of Venice and the archaeological collections of Torcello were placed inside, in what was called the Museo dell’Estuario, inaugurated on the 14th of May 1889.
The building now houses the Archaeological section of the Torcello Museum, inaugurated in 1990 - after the restoration works carried out by the Province - and exhibits artifacts from the prehistoric era to the Early Christian period, most of them from Torcello, others found in the lagoon and on the mainland near Altino. The collection also consists of objects from other places.