By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.
At 601 Austin Avenue, Waco, Texas, stands the 9-story tall Liberty Building, also known as One Liberty Place. It was completed in 1923, and opened for business in May of that year. Its architect was Birch D. Easterwood and it was originally built as the Liberty National Bank building. The Liberty National Bank was chartered on February 1, 1918, and its first president was J.B. Earle. The Liberty Building was one of several high-rise commercial structures built in downtown Waco in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The much larger Alico Building was completed in 1911, The Raleigh Hotel in 1914, The Praetorian Building in 1915, the Stratton Building in 1921, and the Roosevelt Hotel in 1928. However, while the Liberty Building seems unassuming compared to some of these taller structures, it still holds a prominent place among the city’s surviving business buildings from this period. Indeed, at nearly 100 years old, the Liberty Building has stood the test of time and is still supplying much needed office space to a vibrant downtown Waco of the 2020’s.
The “Then” picture from February 1960 in the image sequence below shows: the Liberty Building, located at 601 Austin Avenue, Waco, Texas. Photographer, Windy Drum, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. The “Now’ is a similar view of the building taken in 2020 by GH.
“In Our New Home, The Liberty National Bank Building,” The Waco News-Tribune, May 19, 1923.
Waco Chamber of Commerce News, April 1923, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.