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Abdou Building
El Paso, Texas


Description: Abdou Building
Other Names: Rio Grande Valley Bank Building (1909); Two Republic Life Building (ca.1913); American Trust & Savings Bank(1925)
Address: 115 North Mesa Street at Texas Avenue, El Paso, El Paso County, Texas
Type: commercial: bank and office building
Original Client: Rio Grande Valley Bank
Historic Inventory: National Register number 80004100
Date: 1909 – 1910
Condition: extant

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost & Trost
Contractors: Sorenson & Morgan
Dimensions and Orientation: seven stories; irregular quadrilateral plan with no parallel sides; 86 feet on Mesa x 47 l/2 feet on Texas Avenue; entry on Texas (North)
Architectural Style: Early 20th century skyscraper with modernistic detailing

Architectural Style: 20th Century Skyscaper
Foundation: concrete
Wall Materials: exposed reinforced concrete
Roofing Materials: composition
Other Materials Used: specifications call for lobby walls to be marble faced with plaster ornament and bronze plated grilles
Remodeling and Additions: two additional two-story bays on Texas, ca. 1911 by Trost & Trost. Remodeling by American Bank in 1926 Architect Wuehrmann

Present Owner: Urban Lion LLC (2016)
Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library: (U-1) ink-on-linen plans;(WW-19, 20 and 21) blue line copies, 59 total; (O-8) 6 ink on linen sheets for the addition of 29 feet 6 inches on Texas Avenue
Location of Documentary Photographs: El Paso Public Library: Ponsford 126, perspective view; Ponsford 226 (postcard), perspective view with addition; Aultman A5570, before addition; A5135, West elevation; A5003, before addition

Bibliography: (1) Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht: Henry C. Trost: Architect of the Southwest (El Paso: El Paso Public Library Association, 1981), page 48, bird’s-eye view of El Paso, and pages 51-53, discussed; illustrated page 52 (A5003); page 127, bibliographic notes
(2) Jeff Balliew, unpublished thesis for the degree of Master of Architecture, Texas A & M, College Station, Texas, 1983
(3) Frank Mangan, El Paso in Pictures (El Paso: The Press, 1971), page[68], early photographs showing the Abdou Building as part of street scenes
(4) El Paso Herald, November 5, 1930 page 18, reports McKee as the contractor for this building (?)
(5) El Paso Herald, March 26, 1910 page 10, description of the inside of the bank
(6) El Paso Herald, August 13, 1925 page 1two-fifth interest in the building to Charles S. Klink. Abdou’s stepson.
(7) El Paso Herald, June 25, 1926 page 2 American Bank & Trust Co. Make Plans to Enlarge
(8) El Paso Herald, May 22, 1926 oage 3 American Bank Will Improve Building

Remarks: In 1905, the Rio Grande Valley Bank operated from a building known as the Buckler Building. Within four years however, the need for additional space to house the bank’s increasing activities became apparent. On January 26, 1910, the El Paso Herald reported that the 7 story building was need completion. The ground floor of the exterior and interior of the bank lobby were adorned with marble and the bank was furnished with high quality fixtures.  The moved to it’s new building in March of 1910. This bank defaulted in the early part of the century.

The building was purchased for $150,000 by Sam Abdou in 1925, and has since been known primarily by his name. In August of 1925, stepson Charles Klink purchased two-fifth interest in the American Bank building. Under his ownership, the building was lease to the American Trust and Saving Bank, of which he was director. the lease was for 6.5 years, 10 years’ optional extensions, at $125 a month. The American Bank & Trust company remodel the building at a cost of $20,000. A 12-inch concrete vault, reinforced both sided, allowed for twice as many safety deposit boxes and will be located in the basement. In addition to the value and four booths for safety depositors. The first floor was to be turned into lobby space.The bank defaulted during the depression. The architect for the remodel was W.G. Wuchrmann and Anderson Brother, contractors. After the bank closed, a number of retail establishments.

The building was originally planned for six stories. The Engelbrechts (cited above) were in error in assuming the top floor was the added story, and that the ornamental frieze between the top two floors was intended as a cornice. The additional floor was added between the second and the sixth (see Balliew, cited above).

Prepared for the El Paso Public Library by Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990