1While walking along 6th Street in Austin, TX, I came across The Scarbrough Building and new it had a history. What caught my eye was the beautiful lettering above the main door. Here are a couple of close ups:
2 2a 3This is the floor entrance taken on the side of the building: 4 5The style of the letters is like nothing I have ever seen before. Here’s some history on the building:

Designed in the Chicago style by Fort Worth architects Sanguinet and Staats, Austin’s first modern office building was erected by James Black Construction Company of St. Louis in 1908-09. Bets were taken on whether the city’s first steel and concrete structure would stand or fall. Built on the corner site of the old Hancock building, most recently occupied by the Chiles Drug Store, the building adjoined Scarbrough & Hicks. Its base of two-story Doric piers reflected Sanguinet and Staats’ familiarity with Chicago architecture of the day. The six upper floors accommodated 126 business offices, while the first two floors were created to house the finest department store in central Texas. C.A. Wheeler of Chicago designed the store’s mahogany furnishings.

In 1912-13, E.M. Scarbrough set up a partnership with his two youngest sons, J.W. and Lemuel, and following the death of his partner, R.H. Hicks – who had remained at the Rockdale store – bought out his partner’s interest. Scarbrough & Hicks became E.M. Scarbrough & Sons.

In 1916, the old store building next door was remodeled, new fixtures installed, and a full basement expansion was dug by hand without seriously disturbing the business. In 1930-31, the old Scarbrough & Hicks building was razed. A three-story addition was built in its place with fireproof construction and a sprinkler system. A temporary annex (formerly Barker Motor Company) on Colorado Street was connected via a second-floor, 14-foot wide passageway during the construction and later demolished.

Wyatt C. Hedrick, Inc. of Ft. Worth and Edwin Kreisle of Austin were the architects of the 1931 project. C.E. Swanson of Chicago, who designed many interiors for Chicago’s Marshall Field’s store, was in charge of the interior work of the new building.

A direct entrance to the store was opened onto Sixth Street, offering a new stairway to the Downstairs Store. There was also an entrance into the office building and an entrance into Griffith Drug Company, operated by Dave Chiles. Chiles’ father had been the owner of Chiles Drug Company, which had occupied the old Hancock Building on the site. In the new 95,900 square foot store, the former men’s shop entry on Congress was eliminated to provide additional window display space.

Three passenger elevators, with provisions for a fourth, were added to the new part of the building. A painting of E.M. Scarbrough, by Wayman Adams of New York, hung above the elevators on the first floor. Executive offices and a photographic studio were on the third floor, women’s shops on the second, piece goods and men’s shops were on the first, and the basement provided the budget Downstairs Store and a large Fountain Room that served light lunches.

“Scarbrough’s” – as it was known locally – reopened on September 14, 1931 and became the first retail store west of the Mississippi with “manufactured weather.” Air conditioning, installed by Carrier Engineering Corporation, offered “control of humidity and freedom from dust and germs to a marked degree in the warm months.”

Standing on land once a Spanish land grant, the completed store now faced 152 feet on Congress Avenue and 160 feet on Sixth Street. The entire exterior had been redesigned in the Art Deco style. Green enamel baked on metal still makes for a striking contrast against the Rosetta black granite on the sides and front of the store. Only the cornice and upper floor windows yet reveal the building’s Chicago style origins.

It’s a holiday week so I’ll be back at it on Monday!


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