J. Marvin Jones Federal Building and Mary Lou Robinson U.S. Courthouse, Amarillo, TX
Location: 205 SE 5th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79101
Built in 1937 and 1938, the J. Marvin Jones Federal Building occupies now as it did then a prominent position in downtown Amarillo, across East Fifth Avenue north of Courthouse Square. Smaller and less important architecturally than the adjacent Potter County Courthouse, the Jones Building nevertheless gives the Federal Government a tangible presence in the center this city on the plains of North Texas, and demonstrates the concern that existed at the time of its construction for enhancing public places. Built to occupy approximately half of the block bounded by East Fifth Avenue, S. Taylor Street, East Fourth Avenue and S. Fillmore Street, the structure was originally designed as the United States Post Office and Courthouse. It served both of these functions, and provided additional Federal offices, until 1977 when the Post Office moved its central office out of the building and into its fourth Amarillo location.
This building was designed by well known Texas architect Wyatt C. Hedrick (who had offices in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Houston). Louis A. Simon of the U.S. Treasury Department was the supervising architect and Neal Melnick was the supervising engineer; Algernon Blair of Montgomery, Alabama was the contractor. Julius Woeltz of New Orleans won an important competition to paint the murals on the walls of the Main Lobby. Although not a particularly distinguished design effort by the Hedrick firm, the completed building was nonetheless well-planned and demonstrated of a thorough familiarity of the Federal Government's standard details of the day for post offices and courthouses. Further, the Jones Building can be understood as an example of what is characterized as the American Renaissance Movement, a relatively short-lived period in art and architecture. This strongly nationalistic movement began by identifying with the public art and construction programs of Renaissance Italy, and then adapted European art and architectural styles and symbolism to celebrate American themes. It ceased without finding a distinctive path.
After about fifteen years of occupancy, in the mid-1950's the Government extended the mail platform on the north and back side of the building to the west. Other alterations were also effected in the ensuing years, including the provision of paving in place of green space on the east and west sides of the building. In the 1970's, insensitively conceived and executed alterations for air conditioning and renovations to replace the Post Office damaged and obscured large portions of the interior. With plans currently advanced for two additional courtrooms the historic significance of the Jones Building is presently limited to its largely intact exterior, a small Main Lobby, the District Courtroom and certain service areas and elements.
- Architect: Hedrick, Wyatt C.
- Construction Dates: 1937-1938
- GSA Building Number: TX0006ZZ
- National Register of Historic Places Landmark Status: National Register Listed