Architectural and Historical Gems
(Recommended Ride Time: 4 Hours)
Beaumont's downtown is rich in architectural gems and landmarks that reflect the building styles throughout the decades. From opulent 1901 buildings constructed at the height of the oil boom, you'll see everything from Art Deco to Classic Revival as each period ushered in new building techniques. Take a ride around and explore the mystery, glamour, and commercial features of these prominent turn of the century buildings included on the National Register of Historic Places and Texas state landmarks.
Click anywhere on the map below to open the directions in Google Maps on your phone!
1. Start at the Beaumont Civic Center - 701 Main St.
This loop starts and ends from the Beaumont Civic Center but can be extended to explore on your own.
2. Jefferson County Courthouse Location - 1149 Pearl Street
- Construction Date: 1930 - 1932
Jefferson County passed a $1 million bond issue on August 10, 1929, to build this Art Deco-style courthouse. The Great Depression hit a few months later, but falling prices and Depression scale wages produced better materials at a lower cost. Plaster friezes depicting traditional symbols of justice, as well as local images such as steer heads, pine cones and rice shocks, adorn the outside of this historic property. One of the most dramatic decorative elements can be found in the lobby with its multicolored terrazzo inlaid with metal strips that point to a circular map of the county. The courtrooms are paneled in oriental walnut with a diamond or herringbone pattern. In 1981 the building was restored for $7 million.
3. Hotel Beaumont - 625 Orleans Street
- Today: Vacant, Formerly: Retirement Home
- Construction Date: 1922
Beaumont was booming after the first Spindletop oil discovery. In response to this growth, 277 investors formed the Beaumont Hotel Company in 1919 in order to build a hostelry. One-million dollars was spent on this magnificent 250-room hotel. The building also hosted two ballrooms, the Rose Room and the Sky Room on the Roof, as well as restaurants including the Black Cat Café and the Kitten. In 2000 a $7.5 million restoration by the new owners, the National Development Council, returned the building to its rightful place as an anchor in downtown Beaumont. Conrad Schmitt Studios of New Berlin, Wisconsin, completed the dramatic decorative paint scheme in the lobby of this magnificent structure. This restoration utilized historic tax credits.
4. Jefferson Theatre - 345 Fannin St.
- Construction Date: 1927
The Jefferson Theatre is Beaumont’s best example of Renaissance Revival style and is the town’s only surviving historic movie theatre. The theatre was designed by architect Emil Weil and was built by Sol E. Gordon and J.C. Clemmons of the Jefferson Amusement Company for $1 million. The theatre opened on November 14, 1927, with the movie “Rose of the Golden West” starring Mary Astor and Gilbert Roland. The Jefferson Theatre also hosted traveling shows, vaudevillians and community talent. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the theatre is a magnificent Robert Morton Wonder Organ that is voiced for the acoustics of the Jefferson. The organ, shipped via the Panama Canal, rises from the orchestra pit to stage level. The organ’s 778 pipes and many percussive effects produce a variety of sounds rivaling those of an actual orchestra. In 1995, Beaumont Main Street and the Jefferson Theatre Preservation Society formed a partnership to restore the building. A Business Plan was written and the Master Restoration Plan completed. The community then raised $6.5 million to restore this historic theatre. After approval by federal and state agencies, restoration began. The infrastructure of the building Continued on page 15 The Jefferson Theatre was named TexasÕ Best Restoration in 2004 by the Texas Downtown Association and received a Restoration Award from Preservation Texas. A National Register District 15 was renovated, dressing rooms were added and the projection room was updated. Conrad Schmitt Studios, the nation’s premier decorative painters, recreated the original paint scheme of the ceilings, beams, the grand chandelier and the proscenium arch. The Restoration Grand Opening was celebrated on November 3, 2003, with a concert by Lou Rawls. The celebration continued with an organ concert, the Vienna Choir Boys, “Celebration ‘76,” featuring local talent and finally, “Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron,” a DreamWorks production directed by Beaumont native Kelly Asbury. The Jefferson Theatre is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places and is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. This restoration utilized historic tax credits.
5. San Jacinto Building - 595 Orleans St.
- Today: Offices
- Construction Date: 1921
The San Jacinto Building is an excellent example of Neoclassical architecture as a traditional three-part skyscraper. Floor one has a marble veneer base and floor two is complete with rounded arch windows. Three one-over-one double-hung sash windows per bay on the third through the sixteenth floors, a floral entablature between floor fourteen and fifteen and a brick clock tower on the roof complete this historic building. At the time of its installation, the four-faced clock, measuring seventeen feet across, was the fourth largest clock in the United States. The San Jacinto Building was the largest office building in Beaumont from the 1920s through the 1950s. The building was dedicated on April 21, 1922, by the San Jacinto Life Insurance Company. In 2003 the building was purchased by Tom Flanagan, whose goal was to retain the historical integrity of the property while offering modern amenities to professionals. Mr. Flanagan also purchased the Petroleum Tower, now aptly-named Century Tower, located at 550 Fannin Street. His interests have broadened beyond his successful restorations to include more contemporary structures.
6. Gilbert Building - 486 Pearl St.
Construction Date: 1903
In the 1850s, Nathan Gilbert moved to Southeast Texas from Pennsylvania. His early death forced his son, John Gilbert, to begin working at the age of 11. Nathan Gilbert’s tremendous investment savvy and real estate holdings paved the way for his descendants to become giants of business and fortune in Southeast Texas. John Gilbert invested in oil, lumber, cattle and real estate including this building that carries his family name. Dramatic hallways, floor-to-ceiling windows and interior transoms provided an air stream for offices, financial institutions and retail stores. This four-story structure has early Sullivanesque features with a prominent front entry on Pearl Street and an additional entry with decorative brickwork on Bowie Street.
7. Crockett Street - 200 E. Crockett St.
- Today: Crockett Street Dining and Entertainment District, Formerly: George Wilson Building, Littleton Building, Millard Building, Dixie Hotel
- Construction Date: c.1900
The Crockett Street buildings exemplify the commercial prosperity generated by the timber and rice industry as well as the Spindletop oil discovery. Originally constructed for stores, restaurants and offices, these brick and stucco structures have been beautifully restored and still display decorative cornices, window hoods and transom windows indicative of the early 1900s. One of the most infamous buildings is the Dixie Hotel which became a brothel in the 1950s. In the 1990s, Tom Flanagan, Walter Umphrey and Joe Penland undertook a full-scale restoration of these five structures. These developers planned and executed the largest restoration the citizens of Beaumont have ever witnessed. Exterior architectural elements were retained, yet the interior of each building now houses entertainment venues. Whether dining, partying, dancing or just strolling the brick sidewalks, the atmosphere at Crockett Street is magic!
8. Tyrrell Historical Library - 765 Pearl St.
- Construction Date: 1903
Originally built as Beaumont’s First Baptist Church, the building was purchased by Captain W.C. Tyrrell and donated to the City for use as a library in the 1920s. It is an excellent example of the style of Henry Hobson Richardson’s Romanesque Revival architecture. In 1990, the City of Beaumont and the Tyrrell Historical Library Association restored the structure. The combination of a contemporary library and a historic church is beautifully illustrated in this building. The stained glass windows, the dome ceiling and the subtle paint scheme create a quiet ambience in this historic site that is now home to a research library with collections devoted to the study of Texas as well as genealogy.
9. Julie Rogers Theatre for the Performing Arts - 700 Pearl St.
- Construction Date: 1928
This Classical Revival structure was built to house city offices and a 2,200-seat auditorium. In the early 1980s, the building was renovated and became the Julie Rogers Theatre for the Performing Arts. The auditorium now seats 1,700 and is home to national and regional touring acts, community rentals, Lamarissimo and the Symphony of Southeast Texas. During renovation, the stage house was rebuilt with the addition of a fly loft and an active basement. New continental seating with excellent site lines and acoustics was achieved with a redesign of the auditorium shell. By eliminating original office space and opening the stairways, the lobby area is now two stories high. A new orchestra shell and an orchestra pit, that can be raised and lowered, completed the renovation. The exterior of the theatre is an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture with its Corinthian columns, balustrades and stone and brick façade. Mature oak trees frame the entrance to this historic theatre.
10. Return your bike to the Civic Center!
If You Have More Time... You May Also Want to Check Out These Other Historic Buildings:
10. Edson Hotel - 301 Pearl St.
- Today: Liberty/Pearl Building-Offices
- Construction Date: 1929
Just behind Crockett Street is the Edson Hotel, a 22- story hotel completed in 1929 at a cost of $1.5 million. It was designed by F.W. and D.E. Steinman of Beaumont and was the tallest hotel in Texas for many years. In 1955, the building was purchased by Gulf States Utilities, Beaumont’s only company listed on the New York Stock Exchange at the time. The corporate headquarters for GSU remained in the building until the completion of Edison Plaza in 1982. The structure is a typical example of early 20th century commercial architecture and has attractive detailing such as decorative pilasters and detailed cornices and quoins. The Edsons were early citizens of Beaumont and played an integral role in the economic growth of the area.
11. Goodhue Building - 398 Pearl St.
- Today: Mixed Use
- Construction Date: 1926
The Goodhue Building reflects the exuberance of 1920s oil wealth. Forrest Goodhue and Gussie Goodhue Solari formed the Goodhue Company and built this handsome structure which originally boasted 190 offices. Its stunning lobby, featured on the front cover, includes iron and solid brass trim and an extensive use of marble, natural white oak and walnut woodwork. The building was designed by Tisdale and Stone of Nashville, Tennessee. Penthouse buttresses and Mediterranean balcony ledges contribute to the building’s distinctive features. The Goodhues were early Beaumont entrepreneurs. They were responsible for several downtown buildings including the Crosby Opera House and the Goodhue Opera House. In 2004-2005, Joe Penland, Jr. completed extensive renovations to the Goodhue Building including improvements to the exterior and the lobby.
12. First National Bank Building - 495 Orleans St.
Construction Date: 1937
The First National Bank Building is a unique example of the Art Deco style. The building has a four-story limestone vault with three-story wings and granite base. Note the central bay facing Orleans Street, its brushed aluminum clock and relief figures of industrial workers and professional people set in carved limestone. Beaumont artist Herring Coe carved these reliefs.
13. Levy Building/Rosemont Hotel - 441 Orleans St.
Construction Date: 1893
This Italianate-style building is one of the earliest surviving structures in Beaumont. The first-floor display areas are separated by mirrored cast-iron columns. Brick pilasters with corbelled capitals divide the second and third floors. The building is trapezoidal due to the location of a once existing railroad right-of-way on its north side. For many years the building was known as the Rosemont Hotel and until the mid 1990s was home to a retail clothing store called Adler’s
14. Nathan Building - 336 Orleans St.
- Construction Date: 1902
This Neoclassical structure with Italianate details was originally a two-story structure. Today, it is four-stories tall. The building is trapezoidal because of a once existing railroad right-of-way. The Nathan Building originally housed Nathan’s, Beaumont’s first department store. Jake Nathan came to Beaumont in 1896. He rented a building and began selling discount dry goods for cash only. This new concept was very successful. Just before the Great Depression, Mr. Nathan sold the store to Montgomery Ward. After the stock market crash of 1929, Mr. Nathan’s son Irving left college and returned to Beaumont to help the family. Irving opened a millinery shop and created a line of cosmetics called Deeyã. The Nathan family continues to contribute to Beaumont through their leadership in business, cultural and community affairs.
15. Kyle Building - 387 Broadway
- Today: Offices
- Construction Date: 1933
Wesley and Brudge Kyle built the Kyle Building in 1933. It is considered one of Texas’ best examples of Art Deco. The Kyles were early citizens of Beaumont and constructed one of Beaumont’s first theatres, the Kyle Opera House. The Kyle Building provided second floor space for offices and a first-floor retail area that included Kyle’s Men’s Store. It is laid out in two-story blocks, connected by two single story blocks, further joined by a center block with a vaulted ceiling. The exterior of the Kyle Building is composed of limestone, terracotta and aluminum ornamentation with diffused glass and oak doors. The elaborate aluminum floral patterns above the entrances create a rich texture and most of the entry floors are still in soft colors of pink, green and gray terrazzo. The building was beautifully restored in the 1980s and underwent another interior and exterior renovation in 2005.
16. Santa Fe Depot - 400 Neches St.
- Today: Offices
- Construction Date: c. 1910
The Santa Fe Depot played an important role in the city’s economic development at the turn of the century. Various railway companies utilized the land and building before it closed. Evidence of Jim Crow Laws existed in the structure as thousands of travelers passed through the depot doors. In 1992 Mike Matthews saw potential and restored the depot. Mr. Matthews was very sympathetic to the history and architectural significance of the property. Architectural features include a gorgeous ornamental iron marquee at the entrance, stone sills at the windows, brick segmented arches below stepped brick lintels and a corbelled stringcourse between the first and second floors. Note the masonry “Santa Fe Railroad” logo centered in the front gable area. In 1993 the Santa Fe Depot was named a Finalist for Best Rehabilitation in Texas by the Texas Downtown Association and was also awarded a Beaumont Historical/Cultural marker.
17. United States Post Office and Federal Building - 300 Willow St.
- Today: Jack Brooks Federal Building
- Construction Date: 1933
The Jack Brooks Federal Building is a good example of both the Neoclassical and Federal “make work” projects style completed during the Great Depression. The building is the major symbol of our Federal government in Beaumont and houses Federal courts, offices and a post office. In the late 1980s, President Jimmy Carter came to Beaumont to rename the building for longtime Congressman Jack Brooks. Architectural features include Corinthian columns, floral entablatures, and an Art Deco masonry cornice and the Great Seal of the United States.
18. Coale Building - 461 Bowie St.
- Today: Suga's Deep South
- Construction Date: c. 1927
The Coale Building was named for Beaumont native Ray Coale. Mr. Coale attended Beaumont schools until enlisting in the Navy during WWI. Upon his return to Beaumont, he founded the Coale Lumber Company. Mr. Coale served as Mayor of Beaumont and president of the Port of Beaumont Board of Commissioners. The building was home to offices and retail establishments including the appliance department of the Coale Lumber Company. For many years the offices of Stone, Doiron & Wolfrom were located in this building until it was sold to Dr. Hervy Hiner. Dr. Hiner restored the building in 2005 and opened Suga’s, a restaurant specializing in southern cuisine.
19. American National Bank - 470 Orleans St.
- Today: The 470 Orleans Building
- Construction Date: c. 1925
This twelve-story building is rich in classical detailing. Note the first floor with its two-story pilasters flanking large arched openings. The uppermost floors repeat the arched-opening motif with a classical cornice and balustrade.
20. Beaumont Dry Goods - 905 Orleans St.
- Today: Offices
- Construction Date: 1919
In 2000 the law firm of Sheldon, Jordan and Dunham, LLP completed an outstanding restoration of this early 19th-century commercial structure. The façade of the building is original with storefronts and second-story windows that were repaired or restored. All mechanical systems were replaced, yet the sprinkler piping and original fire doors are exposed. The original delivery bay on the west side of the building was closed for years but reopened during restoration. The building envelope is complemented by the dramatic interior restoration. Every light, chair, table and floor covering are sympathetic to the architecture of this historic site. The firm of Sheldon, Jordan and Dunham, LLP was the recipient of Beaumont’s Preservation Award in 2000 and was named a finalist for Best Adaptive Reuse in Texas by the Texas Downtown Association in 2001. This restoration utilized historic tax credits.