One of the more unique buildings sitting off of San Jacinto Plaza is the Roberts-Banner building. I’ve checked it out a few times recently and used to frequent it for lunch in my runner/courier days, when it had a McDonalds.
It was built in 1910 and is one of the better surviving Trost buildings downtown, though it’s mostly vacant now. There had been a banner advertising its remodel but it’s either been removed or blown off. El Paso Development news reports the city’s interested in it, but no firm details.
The owners have the all the doors open, either in a bid to air it out or because the locks don’t work. It adds to the already surreal, frozen in time vibe, the interior has. There is one office that still houses a business, G J Jewelry:
The small space is packed and looks to have all the necessities for the trade. I’ve only been here on the weekends and haven’t seen anybody inside. The Christmas decorations sort of imply some level of inactivity, but you never know:
All of the office spaces are small one or two room affairs still sporting radiators for heat. You get the sense that this building was probably quite active in its past, housing all manner of solo practitioners, lawyers, doctors etc.
The Roberts-Banner is in a good spot overlooking the rebirth of our downtown. Lets hope the building gets its share of TLC too. Full set of pics here on flickr: Roberts-Banner Building
After setting up at the Art Market, I wandered off again to capture some more pics of buildings and such downtown. Early Saturday mornings still project a eerie ghost town feel, the only exception being the shopfronts that are readying to open for the day. The lone Starbucks downtown is closed on Saturdays so, NO LATTE FOR YOU! I did notice that one building on Mills Ave, that used to house Arby’s many years ago, now has a new facade. It’s a bit disappointing to see the owners went with a mirror treatment and not something more in keeping with the architecture of downtown.
I guess it will make it easy to keep clean:) The Banner Building next door still has it’s period charm though:
The Banner had a McDonald’s in it, like.. forever! I guess once the buses got moved from San Jacinto plaza, there was a big drop in business and they have since vacated. The Banner is interesting because it has a lot of little office spaces in it, mostly vacant now:
There’s a large notification that the Banner is getting remodeled, maybe timing for the re-opening of San Jacinto plaza. It would be cool to see it return to a hub of activity, with lots of neat little shops and offices or something. Hopefully they will retain some of its old timey aesthetic.
I passed a closed jewelry/ watch repair place but i’ll save that for another post…
Heading up Fred Wilson Boulevard, there’s an entrance into Fort Bliss for William Beaumont Army Medical Center. What’s interesting is a large collection of largely unused old barracks and a lone empty chapel, baking in the west Texas sun.
The first 3 easily accessible buildings are right across from a parking lot, making it easy to check out. Given that this is an active part of base, I heeded all trespass warnings and didn’t check to see if any of the buildings were open. Plus who knows why these aren’t in use, there’s probably all sorts of contaminants like lead or asbestos inside. At the very least there were large piles of nasty pigeon poop all over the place, so I stuck to the dirt.
The 3 barrack buildings were all the same construction in various states of disrepair. It’s too bad they can’t be used for some more interesting purpose. Donald Judd’s Chinati comes to mind. Down the way was a small boarded up chapel.
Upon closer inspection, the front door that was boarded up had been kicked in, exposing the interior:
Looking in, you could tell it was completely empty so I didn’t venture any farther than my lens would go. A curious feature was the bridge to the entrance which I guess in the past would have had water. There were probably lots of past marriages here with lots of photo opportunities.
I didn’t want to get stopped and asked a bunch of questions, so it was time to bug out. After grabbing a few more shots, I headed out. The full set can be seen on flickr here: Old Barracks on Fort Bliss
While heading down Texas street I stopped to grab a pic of a probably post-prohibition era sign, painted on the side of a building:
There are a few of these old wall signs left scattered around downtown and this one advertising Bevo makes it especially unique. Not far from it is a large wall mural by Tino Ortega:
The piece is pretty impressive, easy accessible while driving by. Most street art is best viewed by pounding the pavement and walking up to it though. The scope is always more impressive from the sidewalk level. One of the benefits of seeing it up close is you will will notice a nice companion piece nearby that would be easily missed in a passing car:
Sugar skull, guardian of the alley. Forever watching…waiting, what have you seen?