Federal Building – Galveston TX


By the early 1880s, the U.S. Custom House on Post Office Street was inadequate to contain all the federal offices in Galveston. To supplement it, a new United States Courthouse, Post Office, and Custom House was built at the corner of Rosenberg and Church Streets between 1886 and 1891. By the mid-1930s that ponderous Victorian building had also become inadequate, even though a separate Custom House had been built on Galveston’s “Strand” in 1933. Therefore, this six-story federal building, occupying the entire block front on Rosenberg Street, was authorized.

Designed by Alfred C. Finn of Houston, it exemplifies the penchant of American architecture during the New Deal era for simulatenous assertions of modernity and tradition. The building is faced with Texas Cordova limestone, a fossilated limestone frequently used for public buildings in Texas during the 1930s and 1940s because of its regional connotation. A Texas granite plinth and red tile roof coping further regionalize the federal building’s modernistic classicism. Finn’s office streamlined classical detail to a bare minimum, as the vestigial “pilasters,” represented by vertical fluting at each end of the building, and the line of ghost “guttae”-small blocklike projections that hang beneath a classical frieze of the Doric order-between the second-and third-floor windows suggest. The ends are emphasized rather than the center of the symmetrically organized front façade. The architecture is neither imaginative nor especially endearing. Yet, it succeeds as an expression of public dignity, one that has weathered the climactic extremes of Galveston with admirable durability. The Courthouse remains in use today.

Source notes

Catherine Gorman, Historic Preservation Officer, City of Galveston
"Architectural Guidebook to Galveston, Texas," Tour A, Page 50.


Building cornerstone

Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish and Robert Krause on March 13, 2015.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

601 25th St.
Galveston, TX 77550

Coordinates: 29.302504, -94.795870

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