Alfred C. Finn

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Alfred Charles Finn
Born (1883-07-02)July 2, 1883
Bellville, Texas, U.S.
Died June 26, 1964(1964-06-26) (aged 80)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Did not attend college
Occupation Architect
Parent(s) 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).

Early years[edit]

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.[1][2] 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).[3]

Private practice[edit]

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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[4][5] Finn and Jones collaborated in the fruition of two theaters in Downtown Houston, the Metropolitan in 1926 and the Loew's State in 1927.[6][2][7]

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).[8] In 1920, he designed a home for Earl K. Wharton in the wealthy enclave of Shadyside.[9] 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.[3] Other homes in Houston designed by Finn include the Sid Westheimer house (1920), and one for oil mogul, Walter Fondren (1923).[2] 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.[10]

Finn was an architect for the Capitol Lofts,[11] and the L. A. and Adelheid Machemehl House.[12]

Public service and civic buildings[edit]

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.[13] 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.[14] He designed the Ezekiel W. Cullen Building on the University of Houston Campus, an elongated Art Deco building completed in 1950.[15]


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[2] Houston 790 Texas Avenue 1913 Yes Post Lofts Supervising Architect Designed by Mauran, Russell & Crowell.
Foster Building[2] Houston 801 Texas Avenue 1914 Demolished 2017 Designing Architect AKA, The Houston Chronicle Building
Rusk Building[2] 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[16] 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[17] 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[18] Houston 1801 Allen Parkway 1937 Demolished 1999 Designer With Joseph Finger
Sam Houston Coliseum and Houston Music Hall[19] 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:


  1. ^ Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 65–66. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Fox, Stephen (13 February 2017). "Finn, Alfred Charles". Texas Handbook Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 5 October 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Historical Preservation Manual: Courtlandt Place". City of Houston Planning & Development Department. Retrieved 9 October 2017. 
  4. ^ A Brief History of the Simon Theatre - Brenham, Texas Archived November 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Simon Theatre". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved 12 October 2017. 
  6. ^ Cinema Houston: From Nickelodeon to Cineplex. Austin: University of Texas Press. 2007. pp. 65–83. 
  7. ^ Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 65–66. 
  8. ^ Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 66–67. 
  9. ^ Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 69. 
  10. ^ Stephen Fox (2007). The Country Houses of John F. Staub. College Station: Texas A & M University Press. p. 214. 
  11. ^ "Capitol Lofts, Houston". Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 71. 
  14. ^ Wilson, Michael E. (1983). "Alfred C. Finn: Houston Architect" (PDF). Houston History (Summer): 71, 74. 
  15. ^ "Ezekiel W. Cullen Building". Houston Deco: Modernistic of the Texas Coast. Greater Houston Preservation Alliance. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  16. ^ Welling, David (2007). Cinema Houston: From Nickelodeon to Cineplex. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 68. 
  17. ^ Welling, David (2007). Cinema Houston: From Nickelodeon to Cineplex. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 74, 82. 
  18. ^ Strom, Steven R. (2010). Houston: Lost and Unbuilt. Austin: University of Texas Press. 
  19. ^ Strom, Stephen R. "A Legacy of Civic Pride: Houston's PWA Buildings" (PDF). Houston History Magazine. Retrieved 26 March 2018. 

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