Joseph Finger

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Joseph Finger

Joseph Finger (7 March 1887 – 6 February 1953) was an Austrian-American architect. After immigrating to the United States in 1905, Finger settled in Houston, Texas in 1908, where he would remain for the duration of his life. Finger is best remembered for his role in bringing modern architecture to Texas.

Biography[edit]

Joseph Finger was born 7 March 1887 in Bielitz, Austria (now Bielsko, Poland) to Henri Finger (18__-1941) and Hani Steifter (1870-1947). After finishing high school and technical training, he moved to the United States in 1905.[1] Finger settled first in New Orleans then moved to Houston, Texas in 1908. On 18 June 1913 he married Gertrude Levy (1891-1985), a Houston native. The couple had one son, Joseph Seifter Finger (1918-2003), who became a chemical engineer and golf course architect. In Houston, Finger was a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Houston Chamber of Commerce, Houston Turn-Verein, B'nai B'rith, and the Westwood Country Club.

Finger began his Houston career working for C. D. Hill, and in 1912 he became a partner in the firm Lewis Sterling Green. In 1914 he formed his own practice, starting a partnership with James Ruskin Bailey, and from 1920 to 1923 was in a partnership with Lamar Q. Cato. From 1923 until 1944 he worked independently. From 1944 until his death in 1953, Finger worked in a partnership with George W. Rustay.

Finger designed the 1939 Houston City Hall, designed in a stripped classical style. In response to criticism from Houston mayor R. H. Fonville, who wanted a style with more classical reference, Finger said, "Here in America we are rapidly developing our own type of architecture which is far above that of foreign countries. We are building for the masses, not the classes." Above the lobby entrance of the City Hall is a stone relief of two men taming a wild horse, symbolizing a community coming together to form a government to tame the world around them. This sculpture, and the twenty-seven other friezes around the building, were carved by Beaumont artist Herring Coe and co-designer Raoul Josset.

On 6 February 1953, a month short of his 66th birthday, Finger died at his home at 120 Portland Street. He is buried in Beth Israel Mausoleum in Beth Israel Cemetery.

Works[edit]

Name City Address Year Status
Panama Hotel Galveston, Texas 202 Rosenberg Street 1912
American National Insurance Company Galveston, Texas 1913 Demolished
Model Laundry Building Galveston, Texas 513 25th Street 1913
De George Hotel Houston, Texas 1418 Preston Street 1913
Concordia Club Houston, Texas 1915 Demolished
Sterne Building Houston, Texas 300 Main Street 1916
Cheek-Neal Coffee Company Houston, Texas 2017 Preston Street 1917
Keystone Building Houston, Texas 1120 Texas Avenue 1922
Tennison Hotel Houston, Texas 110 Bagby Street 1922
Ricou-Brewster Building Shreveport, Louisiana 421 Milam Street 1924 Demolished
Temple Beth Israel Houston, Texas 3517 Austin Street 1924 Now Heinen Theatre
Texas Packing Company Houston, Texas 1924
William Penn Hotel Houston, Texas 1423 Texas Avenue 1925 Demolished 2006
Citizens State Bank Houston, Texas 3620 Washington Avenue 1925 Now Rockefeller Hall
Auditorium Hotel Houston, Texas 701 Texas Avenue 1926 Now Lancaster Hotel
Wade Irvin House La Porte, Texas 431 Bayridge Road 1927
Vaughn Hotel Port Arthur, Texas 600 Proctor Street 1929
Charleston Hotel Lake Charles, Louisiana 900 South Ryan Street 1929
Joseph Finger House Houston, Texas 2221 Rosedale Avenue 1929
A. C. Burton Company Auto Showroom Houston, Texas 1400 Main Street 1929 Demolished
Texas State Hotel Houston, Texas 720 Fannin Street 1929 Now Club Quarters Hotel
Houston Turn-Verein Clubhouse Houston, Texas 5202 Almeda Road 1929 Demolished 1993
James West House Houston, Texas 3303 East NASA Parkway 1929
Plaza Hotel Houston, Texas 5020 Montrose Boulevard 1929
McCartney Hotel Texarkana, Texas 100 Front Street 1930 Abandoned
Wolff Memorial Home Houston, Texas 1930 Demolished
Simon Minchen House Houston, Texas 1753 North Boulevard 1931
Thomas Monroe House Houston, Texas 1624 Kirby Drive 1931
Davis House Houston, Texas 2330 North Braeswood Boulevard 1933
Barker Brothers Studio Houston, Texas 4912 Main Street 1931
Henry Tennison House Houston, Texas 427 Lovett Boulevard 1932 Now owned by Alliance Française
Byrd's Department Store Houston, Texas 420 Main Street 1934
Beth Israel Mausoleum Houston, Texas 1207 West Dallas Street 1935
Montgomery County Courthouse Conroe, Texas 301 North Main Street 1935
Jefferson Davis Hospital Houston, Texas 1801 Allen Parkway 1936 Demolished 1999
Ben Milam Hotel Houston, Texas 1521 Texas Avenue 1936 Demolished 2012
Clarke and Courts Printing Plant Houston, Texas 1210 West Clay Street 1936 Now Tribeca Lofts
John Platt House Houston, Texas 3311 Del Monte Drive 1936
Joseph Weingarten House Houston, Texas 4000 South MacGregor Way 1937 Currently undergoing full restoration
Tower Community Centre Houston, Texas 1003 Westheimer Road 1937
Abe Weingarten House Houston, Texas 3612 Parkwood Drive 1938
Wesley West House Houston, Texas Riverside Drive and Live Oak Street 1938 Demolished 1963
Houston Municipal Airport Terminal Houston, Texas 8325 Travelair Street 1939 Operating as museum
Houston City Hall Houston, Texas 901 Bagby Street 1939
Abe Battelstein House Houston, Texas 3615 Parkwood Drive 1940
Carnation Company Creamery Houston, Texas 701 Waugh Drive 1946 Demolished
Beth Yeshurun Synagogue Houston, Texas 3501 Southmore Avenue 1949 Now Lucian L. Lockhart Elementary School
Battelstein Building Houston, Texas 812 Main Street 1950
Harris County Courthouse Houston, Texas 1953

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fox, Stephen. "Finger, Joseph". Texas Handbook Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 27, 2014.  Uploaded on June 12, 2010.