Alfred C. Finn
|Alfred Charles Finn|
July 2, 1883|
Bellville, Texas, U.S.
June 26, 1964 (aged 80)|
Houston, Texas, U.S.
|Alma mater||Did not attend college|
Edwin E. Finn|
Bertha (Rogge) Finn
Alfred Charles Finn (2 July 1883 – 26 June 1964) was an American architect. He started in the profession in 1904, and practiced independently between 1913 and 1953. He supervised or designed buildings in various parts of Texas, but worked primarily in Houston. He collaborated on many projects in Houston with Jesse Jones. During the 1930s, Finn worked for the federal government, and later his firm performed contract work for federal agencies. He was one of the leaders in the development of the Art Deco style in Texas. Along with Joseph Finger, Finn was one of the two leading architects in Houston during the first half of the twentieth century. A number of his works are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
Alfred Charles Finn was born to Edwin E. and Bertha (Rogge) Finn in Bellville, Texas, the second of eight children. He grew up in Hempstead, Texas, and moved to Houston in 1900 to work for Southern Pacific Railroad as a carpenter and draftsman. In 1904, he started as an apprentice for Sanguinet & Staats in Dallas. After three years, he transferred to the firm's headquarters in Fort Worth, a position he held until 1912. Sanguinet & Staats transferred him to Houston, but he left the firm in 1913 to establish a private practice. However, before leaving the firm, Finn worked on private residences at Courtland Place (both NRHP-listed) for A.S. Cleveland (1911) and James L. Autry (1912).
Finn's first commission was as project manager for the Rice Lofts, under contract with the firm of Mauran, Russell & Crowell. The owner of the new hotel, Jesse H. Jones, soon after established a collaboration with Finn which would change the face of Downtown Houston. Finn designed two buildings for Jones across the way from the Rice Hotel: the Foster Building, aka the Houston Chronicle Building, in 1914, and the Rusk Building in 1916. The corner of Texas and Travis was dominated by buildings built by Finn and Jones. In 1926, Finn designed a new seventeen-story wing for the Rice Hotel on behalf of Jones. Jones contracted with Finn on another project in Downtown Houston, this time with in collaboration with Kenneth Franzheim and J.E.R. Carpenter, to finish the 37-story, art deco Gulf Building in 1929--at that time the tallest building in Texas.
Finn designed theaters in Brenham, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston. Only one of these is still extant (as of October 12, 2017): the Simon Theatre in Brenham, designed in 1925. Finn and Jones collaborated in the fruition of two theaters in Downtown Houston, the Metropolitan in 1926 and the Loew's State in 1927.
Finn also branched out into the residential architecture, especially in some wealthy Houston subdivisions such as Courtlandt Place, Montrose, and Shadyside. He designed a new house on Montrose Boulevard for Henry H. Dickson, President of the Dickson Wheel Car Company (1917). In 1920, he designed a home for Earl K. Wharton in the wealthy enclave of Shadyside. Already known in the Courtlandt Place subdivision through his work on the A.S. Cleveland House and James L. Autry House while under the employ of Sanguinet & Staats, Finn moved and remodeled an 1890 Victorian house for Sarah Brashear Jones (Jones-Hunt House, NRHP-listed) in 1920. Other homes in Houston designed by Finn include the Sid Westheimer house (1920), and one for oil mogul, Walter Fondren (1923). Perhaps Finn's most ambitious residential project was the Ross Sterling House in Bay Ridge Park near Morgan's Point, completed in 1928. He and Robert Smallwood designed a two-and-one-half story house overlooking the Houston Ship Channel with a bay-side portico design based on the south facade of the White House.
Public service and civic buildings
Finn served as the first Architectural Supervisor for the then recently formed Federal Housing Administration in 1934. He took on this position while Jesse H. Jones was chairing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation during the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration. During the 1930s, Finn also designed buildings on behalf of the Public Works Administration. These included Jefferson Davis Hospital and the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, the U.S. Post Office in Galveston, and the San Jacinto Monument in Baytown, Texas. While no longer reporting directly to the federal government, Finn did contract architecture work for the United States War Department and the Defense Homes Corporation during World War II. His office built the China Springs Air Force Base near Waco, Texas, temporary buildings for Texas A&M, and defense housing in Freeport, Texas. After the war, Finn won a contract to build the United States Naval Hospital at Houston. He designed the Ezekiel W. Cullen Building on the University of Houston Campus, an elongated Art Deco building completed in 1950.
Works, in chronological order, include:
|Name||City||Address||Year||NRHP-listed?||Status||Type of Work||Notes|
|A. S. Cleveland House||Houston||8 Courtlandt Place||1911||Yes||Architect||With Sanguinet & Staats|
|James L. Autry House, Courtlandt Place||Houston||5 Courtlandt Place||1912||Yes||Architect||With Sanguinet & Staats|
|Link-Lee House||Houston||3800 Montrose||1912||Yes||St. Thomas University campus||Architect||With Sanguinet & Staats|
|Rice Hotel||Houston||790 Texas Avenue||1913||Yes||Post Lofts||Supervising Architect||Designed by Mauran, Russell & Crowell.|
|Foster Building||Houston||801 Texas Avenue||1914||Demolished 2017||Designing Architect||AKA, The Houston Chronicle Building|
|Rusk Building||Houston||Texas and Travis||1916||Demolished 2017||Designing Architect||Later annexed to the Houston Chronicle Building|
|Henry H Dickson House||Houston||3614 Montrose||1917||Architect|
|Humble Gas Station||Houston||Main Street at Jefferson||1918||Architect|
|Jones-Hunt House||Houston||24 Courtlandt Place||1920||Yes||Architect|
|Earl K. Wharton House||Houston||12 Remington Lane||1920||Architect|
|Sid Westheimer House||Houston||Montrose||1920||Yes||Architect|
|L.A. and Adelheid Machemehl House||Bellville, Texas||1920||Yes||Architect|
|Melba Theatre||Dallas||1913 Elm||1922||Demolished 1971||Designing Architect||Built for John T. and Jesse H. Jones|
|Walter Fondren House||Houston||3410 Montrose||1922||Designing Architect|
|Metropolitan Theater||Houston||1018 Main Street||1926||Demolished 1973||Supervising Architect||Designed by Jordan MacKenzie|
|Coca-Cola Bottling Plant||Houston||707 Live Oak Street||1926||Demolished 2007|
|Loew's State Theater||Houston||1022 Main Street||1927||Demolished 1973||Supervising Architect||Designed by Victor E. Johnson|
|The Smart Shop||Houston||905 Main Street||1928|
|Scottish Rite Cathedral (Galveston, Texas)||Galveston||2128 Church Street||1928||Yes|
|Krupp and Tuffly Building||Houston||901 Main Street||1929|
|Gulf Building||Houston||712 Main Street||1929||Designer||With Kenneth Franzheim and J.E.R. Carpenter. Tallest building in Houston from 1929 to 1963. NRHP-listed.|
|Jefferson Davis Hospital||Houston||1801 Allen Parkway||1937||Demolished 1999||Designer||With Joseph Finger|
|Sam Houston Coliseum and Houston Music Hall||Houston||801 Bagby St||1937||Demolished 1998||Architect|
|Galveston US Post Office, Custom House and Courthouse||Galveston||601 25th Street||1937||Yes||NRHP-listed in 2001|
|San Jacinto Monument||La Porte||1 Monument Circle||1938|
|City National Bank Building||Houston||921 Main street||1946-47||Or located at 1001 McKinney Ave. NRHP-listed in 2000.|
|First National Bank of Goose Creek||Baytown||300 West Texas Avenue||1948|
|Ezekiel W. Cullen Building||Houston||University of Houston||1950|
|Sakowitz Bros. Department Store||Houston||1111 Main Street||1951|
Works also include:
- Benjamin Apartments, 1218 Webster St. Houston, TX (Finn, Alfred C.), NRHP-listed
- People's National Bank Building, 102 N. College Ave. Tyler, TX (Finn, Alfred C.), NRHP-listed
- State National Bank Building, 412 Main St. Houston, TX (Finn, Alfred C.), NRHP-listed
- Sterling-Berry House, 4515 Yoakum Blvd. Houston, TX (Finn, Alfred C.), NRHP-listed
- Woodward House, 1605 Heights Blvd. Houston, TX (Finn,Alfred), NRHP-listed
- One or more works in Brenham Downtown Historic District, roughly bounded by W. Vulcan, E. Vulcan, South Market, West First, Bassett, S. Austin and N. Austin, in Brenham, Texas (Finn, Alfred, et al.), NRHP-listed
- One or more works in Cedar Lawn Historic District, bounded by 45th. St., 48th St., Ave. L, and Ave. N, in Galveston, Texas (Finn, Alfred C., et al.), NRHP-listed
- Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 65–66.
- Fox, Stephen (13 February 2017). "Finn, Alfred Charles". Texas Handbook Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
- "Historical Preservation Manual: Courtlandt Place". City of Houston Planning & Development Department. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
- A Brief History of the Simon Theatre - Brenham, Texas Archived November 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Simon Theatre". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
- Cinema Houston: From Nickelodeon to Cineplex. Austin: University of Texas Press. 2007. pp. 65–83.
- Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 65–66.
- Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 66–67.
- Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 69.
- Stephen Fox (2007). The Country Houses of John F. Staub. College Station: Texas A & M University Press. p. 214.
- "Capitol Lofts, Houston". Emporis.com. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
- Texas Historical Commission (1992). "Texas Settlement Marker". L.A. and Adelheid Machemehl House. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 71.
- Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 71, 74.
- "Ezekiel W. Cullen Building". Houston Deco: Modernistic of the Texas Coast. Greater Houston Preservation Alliance. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Welling, David (2007). Cinema Houston: From Nickelodeon to Cineplex. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 68.
- Welling, David (2007). Cinema Houston: From Nickelodeon to Cineplex. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 74, 82.
- Strom, Steven R. (2010). Houston: Lost and Unbuilt. Austin: University of Texas Press.
- Strom, Stephen R. "A Legacy of Civic Pride: Houston's PWA Buildings" (PDF). Houston History Magazine. Retrieved 26 March 2018.