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Elizabeth Street

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1859–1949. E. Elizabeth St. between E. 10th and E. 13th sts.

Named after Stillman's fiancée, Elizabeth Street was the designated main commercial artery of Brownsville. It remains economically viable today as shoppers from Matamoros flock to its many bargain stores. Farther west, the street was historically more residential, with fine houses and churches that comprised the West End neighborhood.

The Yturria Bank Building (1859) at 1255 E. Elizabeth Street merges Brownsville's early architectural leadership with its financial primacy in the border region. Constructed for Don Francisco Yturria, prominent Matamoros merchant and Stillman partner, the two-story, four-bay, brick structure includes shuttered second-floor openings, decorative balcony, and floating entablature. The last, a singular building practice transmitted from New Orleans by way of Matamoros, entails an entablature that retreats from the building's edges, giving the appearance of floating within the upper portion of the main elevation. The fact that Yturria moved to Brownsville in the 1850s and built his headquarters on Elizabeth Street suggests the response of south bank merchants to the increasing economic importance of the new American city as the commercial gateway to northern Mexico.

Later architectural development linked to the railroad economy is revealed in the Merchants National Bank (1912) at 1057 E. Elizabeth Street, and the First National Bank (1912) at number 1054. Although altered, both multistory buildings are subdivided into numerous bays by a series of monumentally scaled pilasters with Prairie Style detailing in the Merchants Bank, and Ionic capitals in the First National Bank.

Dominating the streetscape, the four-story U.S. Federal Courthouse and Post Office (1932) by James A. Wetmore, Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury, at number 1001, with its red tile hipped roof and deep, corbeled overhangs, reveals federal efforts to improve the scale and design of government facilities. Opposite at number 1000, the Majestic Theater by Pettigrew and Worley of Dallas (1949) adds a touch of post–World War II modernity with its marquee, projecting neon sign, and turquoise-green wall panels.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Gerald Moorhead et al.
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Citation

Gerald Moorhead et al., "Elizabeth Street", [Brownsville, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/TX-01-BS4.

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