Tower Life Building
Tower Life Building
|Architectural style||Late Gothic Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||91001682|
|Added to NRHP||November 13, 1991|
Construction of the tower began in 1927 and the building rises 403 feet (123 meters) and has 30 floors. The building, which opened in 1929, was originally named the Smith-Young Tower and is the central component of a partially completed development called the Bowen Island Skyscrapers. The eight sided, neo-gothic brick and terra-cotta tower (complete with gargoyles) was designed by noted local architectural firm Ayres & Ayres (Atlee & Robert B. Ayres). The building also housed San Antonio's first Sears, Roebuck and Company store in its lowest 6 levels.
The other completed building in the development is the former Plaza Hotel (also designed by Ayres & Ayres), which opened in 1927. The property became the local outlet of Hilton Hotels in 1956 and was converted into the Granada Apartments in 1966. Subsequent structures in the development were never built as a direct result of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.
In the 1940s the building was renamed the Transit Tower for the San Antonio Transit Company, which the Smith Brothers purchased in 1943. In 1953 a television transmission tower was added to the structure. Renovations in 2010 removed the obsolete television mast in favor of the tower's original design, a copper tophouse with a 100 ft tall flagpole.
The building is now named for its current owner, Tower Life Insurance Company.
In 1991 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building is seen in the background to the right, behind the San Fernando Cathedral.
- National Register nomination, Smith Young Tower, prepared by Stephanie Hetos Cocke, 1991.
- Stephanie Hetos Cocke, "Atlee B. and Robert M. Ayres," Texas Architect, November–December 1989.
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