712 Main in Houston

Photo of 712 Main in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
Photo of 712 Main in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz

712 Main
Formerly:JPMorgan Chase Bank Building
Formerly:Gulf Building

712 Main Street, Houston, Texas, Downtown 77002
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This is one of the great nighttime buildings in Houston, but it's so hard to see among all the other buildings that have crowded it out of the skyline. If you have the means, get into one of the skyscrapers nearby after hours and watch this baby light up. It's an explosion of art deco glory aimed skyward. Half way between a wedding cake and a medieval castle, the Chase Bank Building was formerly the headquarters of Gulf Oil whose gas stations have long since left the gulf coast, but are still thriving in New England. The building was commissioned by Jesse H. Jones whose name, along with the Hobby, Wortham, Smith, and Hermann, is on just about everything in the city. Worthy of Jones' stature, the skyscraper is Gothic in design on the outside, and inside the lobby outfitted in patterned marble and art deco details. The Chase Bank Building was the tallest building in Houston until 1963. And it was even taller when it had a giant illuminated Gulf logo rotating on top of the building.

Quick Facts
    *August 30, 2010: Fire broke out on the 27th floor of this skyscraper.
  • The old Gulf logo was made of porcelain, and had a face 58 feet in diameter. It was illuminated with 7,350 feet of neon tube, and was the world's largest rotating sign when it was completed. Inside there was a telephone and a space for repairmen to work as they rotated. When the sign was removed in the 1970's, its faces were used to build a barn.
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