First National Bank/ Baker Building – 711 Houston Street

711 Houston Street [NR*/Sky(NR)], First National Bank/Baker Building, 1910; 1926; 1967.  Incorporated on January 16, 1877, First National Bank was the oldest in the city when it hired architects Sanguinet and Staats to design its new ten-story building in 1910.  William Miller Sons and Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania constructed the elegant classical Beaux Arts structure.  When it was first built the bank building was only three bays wide on the Houston St. facade, with the entrance between a pair of massive cylindrical stone pillars.  In 1926 Wyatt C. Hedrick, successor to Sanguinet and Staats, designed an addition to the structure that essentially replicated the 1910 building to the north of the existing bank structure, doubling its size.  Harry B. Friedman of Fort Worth was the general contractor for the expansion.  After the 1926 expansion, the ground-level facade boasted a half-dozen stone columns set on massive bases with iron filigree work between them.  First National Bank occupied this building until 1961 when it moved to a new site.  In 1967, two years after the building was sold to E.L. Baker, Sr., it was extensively remodeled.  Modular concrete panels were installed at street-level and aluminum windows replaced the original wood sash windows.  The elaborate cornice remains intact.  Hueppelsheuser & White, Architects and Engineers designed the renovation and Butcher & Sweeney were the general contractors.  Capital National Bank was located here during the 1980s.  As it stands today, the building is a significant but compromised artifact of Fort Worth’s architectural and financial traditions.  In its original condition, the building would probably be eligible for the National Register.  It is a contributor to the proposed Downtown Skyscrapers National Register Thematic Group.

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