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People’s Petroleum Building (People’s National Bank Building)

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1932, 1936, Alfred C. Finn; 2014 rehabilitated, Fitzpatrick Architects. 102 N. College Ave.

When completed by Finn, one of Houston’s preeminent commercial architects, the fifteen-story bank dominated Tyler’s skyline, illustrating the wealth flowing from the nearby East Texas oilfield. The bank’s stepped-back massing and alternating vertical ribbons of buff-colored brick and dark glass are inspired by the Daily News Building (1930, Howells and Hood) in New York City. Finn achieved a soaring verticality. The original windows were replaced with reflective bronze glass in 1969. Abstraction and the absence of ornamentation are two qualities that highlighted this building as the most modern skyscraper built in Texas prior to World War II. Finn designed an eleven-story expansion to the west in 1936, duplicating the strong vertical piers of the original corner tower. The building was rehabilitated in 2014 as prime office space.

An expansion to the north at 110 N. College Avenue, is the former Bank of America (1980, 3D/International), now the Plaza Tower. The building is composed of three staggered slabs of dark bronze curtain wall, and its massing achieves a sympathetic coexistence with the original tower despite the jarring contrast of their exterior materials and the lack of strong vertical or horizontal elements.

Diagonally across from People’s Petroleum at 116 W. Erwin Street is the former S. H. Kress and Company Building (1946, Edward Sibbert), the last Kress store built in a Texan downtown. It carries none of the earlier exuberance in glazed terra-cotta that was the company trademark. The upper two stories are plain tawny brick with narrow horizontal window bands.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "People’s Petroleum Building (People’s National Bank Building)", [Tyler, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: East, North Central, Panhandle and South Plains, and West, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019, 61-62.

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