One of Joseph Finger's myriad commercial endeavors, the former Barker Brothers Studio, is now a stalwart Museum District venue. On the long plane of Main Street, the 1931 façade emphasizes verticality and features large, central window bays with symmetrical entry zones on the outer edges. The ornamentation is unique for the area, which is otherwise comprises desolate gas station parking lots, sleek museums and stunning historicist cathedrals. Look closer to appreciate the beautiful sunray relief detail accentuating the spandrel and entry zones.
Austrian-born architect Joseph Finger became one of Houston's most beloved municipal architects with his conception of City Hall in the streamlined Moderne motif. It was to be the centerpiece of an Art Deco civic plaza, whose plans fell victim to the Great Depression. Thanks to the WPA, the building was erected in 1937 with its trademark setback tower and nickel and bronze reliefs of civilization's great thinkers. Bas-relief sculptures and lobby murals reflect socialist currents of the era, and remain intact for visitors to admire.
Completed at the height of the Roaring '20s, the Gulf Building (now the JPMorgan Chase Building) was expertly restored in 1987 and 2004. Lucky for us, the opulent detailing in the Main Street lobby and original National Bank of Commerce banking hall is intact. Fun fact: the Gulf Building was Houston's tallest skyscraper from 1929 to 1963.
We're talking about the main building on campus - the former Merchants and Manufacturers Building. The structure's siting and classic Art Deco detailing are no mistake - located near historic Allen's Landing, the building was designed as a beacon of commerce. Today, the 11-story mid-rise structure stands out among the swath of freeway overpasses and train tracks. Erected in 1930, the university building is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Designed by Kenneth Franzheim, the original downtown Foley's represents Houston's transition from Art Moderne to mid-century styles. The structure became a model for the modern American department store, and can still be admired today for its streamlined canopy, display windows and generous parking garage. If you knew the building before it became Macy's in 2006, then you may remember the original aluminum signage.