Houston City Hall

901 Bagby St Houston

Houston Architecture Tour/Houston City Hall
VAMONDE Houston
Written By VAMONDE Houston

Houston City Hall

The Houston City Hall building is the headquarters of the City of Houston's municipal government. Constructed during 1938, the City Hall complex is located on Bagby Street on the western side of Downtown Houston. It is surrounded by the Houston Skyline District and is similar in design to dozens of other city halls built in the southwest United States during the same time period. The simply designed structure featured many construction details that have helped to make this building an architectural classic.

History

From 1841 to 1939, Houston's municipal government was headquartered at Old Market Square. It was destroyed by fire in the 1870s, and also in 1901, and rebuilt each time. In those days, City Hall was part of the lively commercial atmosphere of the Square. However, by the 1920s, the city leaders decided the site was no longer appropriate for their needs.

Architectural details

The architect of the City Hall was Joseph Finger, an Austrian-born Texan architect responsible for a number of Houston-area landmarks.

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The design on the lobby floor depicts the protective role of government. In the grillwork above the main entrances are medallions of great lawgivers from ancient times to the founding of America, including Thomas Jefferson, Charlemagne, Julius Caesar and Moses, and an outdated city seal adorns the interior doorknobs.

The building is faced with Texas Cordova limestone, and the doors to the building are of a specially cast aluminum. The lobby is walled with lightly veined marble. The gateways to the Tax Department are inlaid with bronze, nickel and silver. The elevator lobbies are treated with marble base, walls and wainscoting.

Above the lobby entrance is a stone sculpture depicting two men taming a wild horse, which is meant to symbolize a community coming together to form a government to tame the world around them. The plaster cast for this sculpture, and twenty-seven casts for friezes around the building, were done by Beaumont artist Herring Coe and co-designer Raoul Josset.

Who Uses It Today?

The Mayor of Houston and City Controller have their offices in this building. Council Members have their offices immediately across the street at the City Hall Annex building. Tuesdays at 1:30pm, and Wednesdays at 9:00am, Houston City Council meets in the chamber. All meetings are open to the public.

*Information courtesy of Wikipedia

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