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H O U S T O N ' S L O F T H I S T O R Y
The Franklin Lofts
201 Main St.
Standing seven stories tall, the building that would be home to First National Bank was Houston's first (and tallest!) steel-frame constructed building at the time! The year was 1905, and Houston was booming! The bank occupied the "basement" as well as the first floor, while the upper floors were leased out as office space. The L-shaped, ornately detailed landmark was designed by architectural firm Sanguinets & Staats and doubled in size in just 3 years. Decades after First National Bank merged with City National Bank in 1956, the building was commissioned in the 1990's by developers for plans to convert the space into the industrial lofts that exist today. For more than a century, the striking structure known as The Franklin Lofts has adorned the streets of Houston.
915 Franklin St.
In its former life, the bones of The Bayou Lofts were the regional office space of the iconic railroad transportation giant, The Southern Pacific Railroad. Built in 1921, this building holds an incredible history in the heart of the city, literally one block from Allen Landing, the birthplace of Houston. In 1997, the building was purchased by developers and converted into residential lofts offering downtown dwellers a unique & historical home, with spectacular city views, in a bustling area of downtown. Nearly a century after its establishment, the stately building at 915 Franklin St. continues to be a pillar in the downtown Houston skyline.
The Capitol Lofts
711 Main St.
The Capitol Lofts located at 711 Main began as the M.E. Foster building. Marcus Elliott Foster built the high-rise in 1908 for the growing news publication he had founded 7 years prior, The Houston Chronicle. Today, The Houston Chronicle is Houston's major source for local news with nearly 2,000 employees and $10 billion in revenues. After Foster's retirement in 1926, the M.E. Foster building served as office and retail space for several years. In 1998, the building was purchased by 711 Main LLC, a development group who re-imagined the space into stunning industrial lofts.
The Hermann Lofts
204 Travis St.
Hermann Lofts was one of the original Houston loft conversion projects with the first residents inhabiting the 32-unit building in 1997. Eighty years prior, in 1917, the 8-story, yellow brick tower was constructed and named after the great Houston philanthropist, George Henry Hermann. Hermann is most known for his dedication to Houston shown by his donation of Hermann Park to the city as well as the founding of Memorial Hermann Hospital System, one of the most prestigous healthcare systems in Houston's renowned Med Center. The building last operated on a full-time basis as the HQ for the Salvation Army. All this history landed The Hermann Lofts on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Kirby Lofts
917 Main St.
This gem was first constructed in the 1920's for the Kirby Lumber Co as part of the industrialization of Houston capitalizing on the location's proximity to Buffalo Bayou. Kirby Lumber occupied the building until 1945. In the 1950's, upscale department store Neiman Marcus moved in and was a staple in downtown until The Galleria opened in Uptown. Palais Royal was the last commercial occupant for this iconic space. In 2005, the 65-unit structure became The Kirby Lofts as developers were taking notice that residential lofts were becoming more and more sought after.
St. Germain Lofts
705 Main St.
The S.H. Kress buildings were known throughout the US in the late 1800's to early 1900's for their "modern" architecture and intricate, ornate design details. The company operated several successful variety stores known as "Five and Dime." These stores are similar to what we know today as "dollar stores." At the time, the prices for basic items ranged from .5 cents to .25 cents! The Kress organization was also a polarizing presence against ending segregation during the civil rights era, which prompted "sit-ins" outside their stores to provoke change. The store occupied the bottom floor of 705 Main St. while offices occupied the upper levels - an uncommon concept at the time that was just gaining momentum. Built in 1913, St Germain was renovated in the 1990's into eclectic Lofts - boasting an incredible location in the heart of downtown Houston with stunning views.
914 Main St.
The Commerce Building, which finished construction in 1929, is downtown Houston's largest residential building! Located in Houston's Central Business District, it's one of the only buildings offering direct access to the underground tunnel system, a HUGE benefit to residents. Formerly known as The Commerce Building, it was home to Houston's Chamber of Commerce and was originally only 9 floors. In the 1930's, a local icon in the community, Jesse Jones, led the redevelopment in adding several more floors. Finally, in 2002, the building was converted into a 25-story full-service residential luxury "Soft Loft" Condominium building with 24/7 concierge, valet, dry cleaning & car wash services in addition to building amenities. Commerce Towers is ultra-luxury downtown living!
1120 Texas Ave.
Merely a century ago, in 1920, The Keystone Building made its debut as a multi-tenant office building in Houston, TX. At the time, office buildings were a new concept and Houston - being a city with an innovative spirit from inception - was leasing this space faster than they could build it! These moves solidified Houston as a city of opportunity and laid the groundwork to position the city as the corporate powerhouse it is today. A famed Houston photographer, Robert Bailey, would house his Etchcraft studio here from 1929-1934. His collections have chronicled much of Houston's progress from the 1920's to the 1990's. In 1975 The Keystone Building was converted into a document storage facility. The renovations included sealing all windows! In 1998 The Keystone Building would again be converted, this time into Industrial Living spaces - The Keystone Lofts.
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