Narrative Description (NRHP nomination)

"The building lies within the central business district of Lubbock, Texas on a site that was once the southeast corner of the original “Courthouse Square”. It remains in close proximity to the Lubbock County Jail (1931), as well as the more recent Federal Building (1968) that replaced it.

Essentially rectangular in plan, the 3-story building faces south onto Broadway Avenue, the main thoroughfare. The slightly projecting portico and light wells on the second and third levels of the north elevation provide the only breaks in the rectangular form.

"Symmetrical in design, the Federal Building’s tripartite (south) façade consists of a central pedimented portico flanked by hipped roof extensions on each side. The composition also divides horizontally into three sections, with the lower level faced with limestone and the upper levels sheathed in a blend of buff brick. Red and orange mission clay tiles clad the hipped roof.

"The central portico dominates the façade of the building. Leading up to the main entrance is a wide stairway of gray granite steps flanked by projecting stone plinths. Iron lamp standards top each plinth. Three recessed vertical bays characterize the portico, with the first level containing three arched entrances. Within each archway, pairs of bronze and glass doors provide access to the interior. Rectangular glazed panels with decorative lead tracery are capped by arched transoms to complete the entry composition.

Second and third levels feature a recessed window in each bay. Colossal order Ionic columns vertically divide the windows. A bronze flagpole holder mounted on the ledge below the columns appeared on construction documents, but has evidently been removed.

Bronze bas-relief sculptures mounted on white marble panels fill the spandrels between the second and third floor windows.

A dolphin,

an eagle

and compass

represent the transportation of mail via the oceans, the air and the earth. A limestone pediment decorated with a single carved stone eagle surmounts this composition.

“The exterior walls feature veneers of ashlar-cut limestone blocks on the basement and first floor levels. Deep light wells extend down to the basement level on either side of the entrance steps, with double hung steel windows lighting this level.

Windows on the first floor consist of tripartite casement sashes surmounted by arched transoms. A stone stringcourse provides the transition between the first and second levels. Stylized shields centered in each bay ornament this band.

“Blended buff brick faces the second and third floors, with white rectangular marble panels serving as spandrels between the second and third story windows. Lining up vertically with the first floor fenestration, these rectangular windows feature similar materials and configurations. Another limestone stringcourse skimming the tops of the third story windows, a brick band studded with rectangular stone panels carved in a floral pattern, and broad stone eaves visually comprise the cornice of this classical composition.

“The 6-bay secondary (east & west) elevations feature identical detailing. At the south end of the east elevation, a pair of wrought iron sconces flanks an arched auxiliary entrance.
A small rectangular penthouse surmounts the building above the east elevation. The north elevation features only five banks of windows and a pair of exterior stairs at either end. Leading down to the basement, these stairwells historically flanked a 5-bay loading dock. Additions to the jail in the 1980s and renovations on the Federal Building obscured or eliminated four of these entrances.

“Interior spatial configurations and detailing survive relatively intact, although often beneath a layer of recent modifications such as suspended ceilings and temporary relocation of walls. The interior plan of the main floor has suffered the highest level of reconfiguration, with the removal of many original walls. Apart from the installation of suspended ceilings in corridors, the original configurations of the second and third floor spaces survive. Original finishes such as exposed concrete floors, wall bases, painted plaster walls and ceilings, wood doors and wood trim survive in scattered locations throughout the building.

“Perhaps the most intact space is the Federal Courtroom on the third floor. Marble surrounds and simple classical pediments frame two pairs of raised doors with brass knobs and plates that provide access to this space. A paneled wainscot of stained white oak encircles the room at a height of nine feet, six inches.

The ceiling features a tri-colored (blue, green, peach) stenciled floral pattern divided into eight rectangular panels. Currently this space is used as a court room for the county’s Court Master. (Jan.1995)

“Serving as the center of federal activities in Lubbock until construction of the current federal building in 1968, this building is presently owned by Lubbock County. While the first and second floors house several county departments, the courtroom is currently used for hearings on family law matters.(Jan.1995) The building remains a prominent fixture in the downtown area, retaining a significant degree of historic integrity of design, materials and workmanship, as well as location, setting, feeling and association.”

“An imposing classical public building, the Lubbock Post Office and Federal Building provides visual testament to the significant role played by the federal government in establishing the community as the focal point of Texas’ South Plains region. As this period coincided with an era of unprecedented growth and construction in Lubbock and the surrounding region, the building symbolically represented Washington’s recognition of the community’s status as the hub of the South Plains region. Deviations from standard designs of the era reflect political efforts by Lubbock’s citizens to ensure that local building traditions would be incorporated into an other wise bureaucratic design process. The building is significant on the local level under Criterion A in the area of Politics/Government as the visual reminder of this relationship between local civic leaders and federal officials. As the earliest surviving representative of the federal presence in the city, the building gives testament to the increasingly important role of the federal government in the life of the community in the early 1930’s. Perceived as a modern adaptation of Italian Renaissance architectural forms at the time of its construction, the prominent building is a significant example of classicism popular for public architecture in the 1920s and early 1930s. The building is therefore eligible on the local level under Criterion C in the area of Architecture as the best surviving example of this type of architecture.”

Footnote: The last occupants vacated the building about 2001.

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