WestGrayGuy

Old Central Bank Building

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WestGrayGuy    4

The building I am referring to is the old bank building bounded by the streets: Webster, Milam, Travis and Gray. It is probably 12-15 stories and on the very Northern edge of midtown.

What can be done with this building? Can it be economically turned into resiential? Surely asbestos abatement would negate this. Can a business come in and renovate? Should it be another casualty of Houston's tear down craze?

To crater or not to crater?

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dbigtex56    172

Just a few months ago I would have unhesitatingly said "Crater!".

But after some of the comments made on this board (especially in the Houston Mod section) I've gained a new appreciation for this building. The mosaic-like stonework on the south facade is especially pleasing.

The parking garage on the southwest corner does not relate to the building at all; if Central Bank was to be renovated, I'd hope a more sympathetic garage would replace it.

Someone once mentioned the name of the architect who designed this building - if anyone knows, please refresh my memory.

Aside from the asbestos abatement, another issue might be noise from the Pierce Elevated. I've heard that lower units on the north side of 2016 Main are plagued with that problem. I also wonder about the mechanical systems (heating-a/c, elevators, wiring, plumbing...)

Aesthetics aside, the economics look pretty daunting.

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The problem is that it doesn't look like it would serve any other interests otuside of the commercial office market. It doesn't look like the best structure for a condo reconfiguration or a hotel. However, I could be wrong.

Otherwise, keeping it around seems to not really serve a purpose. It's sort of like an eyesore between downtown and Midtown.

I think of greater concern are the Savoy and old Days Inn hotels. They're better designed for condo/loft/what-have-you redevelopment, especially the Savoy.

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WestGrayGuy    4

I thought the same thing about the old World Trade building next to Minute Maid park. I didn't think anything could be done with that building.

Thanks to the foresite for Tillman Fertitta, the building looks great as the Inn at the Ballpark.

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SpaceAge    23

century_building.jpg

Century_Building.jpg

I believe this is the photograph you are referring to. Is this the Central National Bank Building or the Cenuury Building? Or are there two buildings connected?

They are nice looking- much better than what would be put up now. The quality of detail could not be duplicated today with the cheap curtain walls, foam stucco, fake stone, or the apartment complex like town house lofts they are filling this area with. I am concerned this area will be in decay again in 10 years due to the lack of quality of the new buildings.

The Central Bank Building was a real swinging place-the second location of Glenn McCarthy's Cork Club in 1957 after he sold the legendary Shamrock Hotel to Hilton. Glenn McCarthy was known as "King of the Wildcatters" and was played by James Dean in the movie Giant. The Cork Club featured the top entertainers of the era including Frank Sinatra. (The last location of the Cork Club was to be at the office tower on Highway 6 at Memorial Drive in 1983 but the economic bust left that building unfinished for years and the club did not open.)

The Central Bank Building is said to be haunted, especially the top floor where the club was. In the 1980's the radio staions KKBQ 93FM and KULF/KKBQ 790AM

had their offices there. The best and most popular morning radio show of all times- the Q Morning Zoo staring John Lander, Jackie Robbins, Rio, Mr. Leonard, and Clete Dumpster- was broadcast from there. Ken Hoffman, with the Chronicle, was one of their writers. Jackie is now on the 107.5 morning show. They would often mention strange things that occurred in the building.

Recalling the lost information from the Lucian Hood III posts, architect Lars Bang had established a firm and Lucian Hood, Jr. later joined it. They had designed the office building in the Rice Village and the Big Doughnut shop, now the Marquies, on Bissonnet, west of Kirby, once shown on this site, and many other buildings and houses.

Bang and Hood split up while working on the Century Building because the developer, Kenneth Schnitzer, wanted to use an engineer that was his relative and Lars Bang wanted to use the engineer they usually used. Hood and Bang remained friends but Lucian Hood III believes they were destined for greatness if they would heve remained together. Schnitzer went on to build much of Greenway Plaza and the Richmond Office District.

Edited by SpaceAge

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Subdude    1286

Thanks for the info space age. According to the old database the Century and Central Bank buildings are the same. The asbestos problem limits things, but if demand ever was strong enough it might be worth it. The problem with asbestos buildings is that you just can't blow them up to demolish them, so it may be cheaper to just sit on them and hope the economics turn around. I have always envisioned this as condo potential, although that may not be realistic.

Space Age might the Cork Club have arrived there later? Does the building date to 1957? It looks newer than that.

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SpaceAge    23

According to my 1969 city directory, it must consist of two buildings.

Central National Bank

2100 Travis

12 floors and a basement 10' ht.

Glenn H. McCarthy and The Cork Club- 12th floor

Paul & Paul Architects- 2nd floor

Several radio stations listed

Century Building

2120 Travis

14 floors and a basement 10' ht.

Kenneth L. Schnitzer- 8th floor

Fred Nahas- 4th floor (a local media celebrity)

HCAD has combined them on their site. Part of building is listed as built in 1956 and part in 1957.

295,000sf +/- total bldg, 1+ acre site

The parking garage was built 1961. Has office space on top of garage too.

Shown to have a new owner as of Jan 2002.

HCAD value 2004 is $2.8M

The 1957 date for the club may be correct. Yes, the building does look newer. Lars Bang and Lucian Hood, Jr. were out in front at the time style-wise.

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Subdude    1286

Thanks for researching that! I have always liked those buildings, but I could see it being years before anything is done with the property.

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Astro    0

Thanks for all the interesting info Space Age! I didn't realize there was so much interesting history there. I'm a fan of these buildings too and I really hope they can be saved.

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Subdude    1286
Please, blow it to high heaven.

The underground garage was filled with water after Allison for over two months.

So were some other garages, like the civic center. Why does that mean it should be blown to high heaven?

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MidtownCoog    3

Cuz it's an ugly dump and a bad location.

With all the new traffic on Hadley and Webster, nobody will ever have a chance to exit.

Traffic patters have changed, and worked against that building.

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dbigtex56    172
Cuz it's an ugly dump and a bad location.

With all the new traffic on Hadley and Webster, nobody will ever have a chance to exit. 

Traffic patters have changed, and worked against that building.

Now why does that remind me of this song ?

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MidtownCoog    3

I used to sit next to this building everday in traffic when Pierce was being rebuilt in 2000.

It's a dump not worth saving. If it was any value at all, it would not just be sitting there. It's another Plaza Hotel.

Going nowhere, and a general eyesore in the process.

Print It

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Dream    1

Put all the "Midtown leaders" in it and blow it up and l hope it falls on the Greyhound bus station.

Post It.

Dream

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squatterkid    1

Let's see, how do I start this. Basically paying rent sucks so I've lived in quite a few empty buildings in the Houston area. Kapish?

Central Square is indeed two buildings. I'm not sure if they we're built seperately and joined later, but it certainly seems so, as navigating the place can be a freaking maze. There's also a third one story building that's cinderblocked off from the rest (used to be connected) on the northwest corner.

It is indeed a very ugly building. As much on the inside as on the out. Some pretty bad leaks in the building, and salvagers (crackheads) who also lived there have ripped out all of the copper and most of the brass. The noise from the Pierce elevated is actually barely noticeable, even on the lower levels. The building has very few windows on the North, East and South sides. (none on the south) I made a boat to explore the flooded basement. (pretty common in houston)

I would certainly believe that the upper stories are haunted. Weird feeling up there. And there's actually a bathroom on the VERY top with a window directly in front of the toilet that seems oddly placed. Like encouraging suicide. Very strange.

Very awesome HUGE map of Houston from the sheriff dispatch office that used to be in there. Still very easy to get into in case someone happens to know David Cook or whatever the realtors name is.

I also lived in the Savoy and have plenty of stories and opinions about that place. Houston is a squatters paradise. And before anybody yells at me, I never cause harm to a building, on the contrary, I often improve them. Unless the landlord is a jerk.

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SpaceAge    23

Have you ever been to the 12th floor of the Central National Bank building? Can you see any remains of a night club or radio stations?

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dbigtex56    172
Let's see, how do I start this. Basically paying rent sucks so I've lived in quite a few empty buildings in the Houston area. Kapish?

A hearty hello and welcome, squatterkid.

I knew people who lived at Allen Park Village just before much of it was destroyed (squatters), and they were decent folk.

Likewise, I remember when lower Westheimer had abandoned buildings which were respectfully occupied by non-paying residents.

I'm still mystified that people can own buildings and not want to do something with them.

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Subdude    1286

Welcome to the forum squatterkid. Very interesting perspective. I hope you have better accomodations now.

I believe the Ben Milam also had (has?) squatters living in it.

How was the Savoy?

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squatterkid    1

First off, thanks all for the warm welcome. Somehow I expected a bunch of property owner types to be telling me to bug off and whatnot. Glad that's not the case. (although property owner types would actually benefit from knowing me, I'm good at keeping the wrecker of building types out)

All I can recall from the upper floors of Central Square was that they were a hell of a lot more wrecked then the lower floors which were still nice. And I remember that one of the upper floors had a bunch of stylish leather furniture, probably that night club.

The electricity is unfortunately cut off at the street level so my attempts at manipulating the GIANT l.e.d. screen on the roof of the building failed.

The bank building (northeast corner) is kind of cool. The vault is open and it's kind of weird to be behind the bank teller.

I don't ever really live in one particular place in the country but by far my best free-rent living has been in Houston. Leave it to Texas to have abandoned SKYSCRAPERS!!

The Savoy is a completely different and awesome story. I think I'll start a new topic for it.

I have friends of friends that lived in APV, and would absolutely love to hear about any squats or stories in or near Houston.

sean

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Subdude    1286

We certainly wouldn't want to encourage illegal trespassing, but for you urban explorer or squatter types, a large window is broken out in the Central Bank building so anyone can walk right in, but don't, because that would be trespassing. ;)

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torvald    0

i had started this as it's own thread but i guess it belongs here:

"i have been wanting to photograph the central square (after driving by and seeing that huge clock a few blocks over) and by the time i get around to it there are fresh huge plywood boards around the first floor and broken glass in the street. are the boards really that recent? this was on friday around 4pm. there was actually one more newly broken window without plywood over it and glass in the street. i was only able to photograph the escalator and a wooden sales desk through the window. anyone know what happened?

i have many, many questions about a few of the older houston buildings but i figure it is best to search this site for previous posts and ask whatever has not been covered yet. thanks"

if anyone has photos of the inside -- could you share?

i also wanted to add that on the rail yesterday i noticed that this building got heavily tagged on one of the top floors. pretty large and intricate too. i am so irritated as this means there is more to follow. as i really like this building i worry that it would hasten it's being torn down.

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