Mission Trails Historic Sites

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hipolito F. Garcia Post Office and Federal Building

The iconic Hipolito F. Garcia Post Office and Federal building was constructed from 1935 to 1936 with the support of the Federal Public Works Administration. The United States government established the public works program during the Great Depression to provide opportunities for employment while improving the nation’s infrastructure. The facility, which encompasses an entire city block in Alamo Plaza, was designed by Texas architect Ralph Haywood Cameron in conjunction with nationally renowned Beaux Arts practitioner Paul Phillipe Cret in the Beaux Arts Classic Style.

This architectural style was popular throughout the nation during the early twentieth century. The Beaux Arts style, an eclectic style named after a group of architects trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in France, was commonly used by architects of institutional buildings constructed with Works Progress Administration funding. However, the designers of the Post Office and Federal Building also employed elements that reflected the building’s location in the heart of Texas.

For example, the steel and concrete structure was clad in locally quarried Texas Pink granite and Texas Cream limestone. Additionally, the main lobby includes a monumental fresco mural illustrating the importance of San Antonio in Texas history. The mural, painted by Howard Cook, is known as one of the showpieces of the federal mural program and is one of the largest in the nation (Clow 2000).

The building is included within the National Register of Historic Places-listed Alamo Plaza Historic District and was individually recognized on the register in 2000. The building is also a City of San Antonio local landmark. For more information on the history and architectural details of this significant building, see the Government Services Administration’s overview on their website. Additional information about recent renovations to the facility is available on the American Institute of Architects website.

Sources

  • Clow, Victoria Green and Daron Duke (Geo-Marine, Inc.)

    2000 - National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, “San Antonio U.S. Post Office and Courthouse,” Copy on file at the Texas Historical Commission, Austin, Texas.
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