1981 Amarillo Historic Buildings Survey

The Amarillo Historic Buildings Survey, completed in 1981 for the City of Amarillo, provides detailed physical descriptions and architectural/historical commentary on approximately 240 properties in the county seat of Potter Co. These properties range in date of construction from the town's beginnings in the 1890s to the mid-1950s, with a large number dating from the oil-induced boom of the 1920s. Included are civic buildings, churches, schools, and a large number of commercial properties, such as motels, restaurants, banks, office buildings, warehouses, manufacturing plants, railroad depots, and gas/service stations. Numerous residential structures are also documented.

All information from this database can be accessed in a search of Potter Co. neighborhood surveys and is distinguishable by the prefix "NRSAMA" in the identifying code.

What will I find?

Each document includes property name/address; construction date; and property description, history, and significance.

  • Property description is often detailed, with attention to layout, composition, and ornamentation of buildings. Details of roof and facade construction, significant interior details, and important architectural influences are often noted.
  • Property history generally includes names of original owner and contractor/architect, sometimes with additional biographical information. Information on relocation, remodeling, and current use of buildings is also frequently given.
  • Property significance comments on architectural or historical importance and suitability of site for National Register eligibility.

How can I use it?

Information from this database is most likely to be of use to students and researchers of architecture, but considerable information about local and social history is also available here.

Numerous examples of architectural styles popular at various times in the vicinity are identified, especially Spanish Colonial Revival, Mission Revival, and Moderne styles. Changes in the building styles of restaurants, gas stations, and businesses as the town became more dependent on automobile traffic from its one-time location on historic Route 66 are frequently noted. In addition, residential property descriptions trace the change in local housing preference from the early folk style square residence with a pyramidal roof to the Craftsman bungalow of the 20s to the larger, more diversely ornamented later styles. Researchers interested in the work of local architects, most notably Guy A. Carlander, will find helpful information.

Local historians, teachers, and genealogists will find biographical tidbits within residential property histories about numerous early residents of Amarillo, including Henry B. Sanborn (known as the father of Amarillo), surveyor Willis D. Twitchell, rancher Lee Bivins, newspaperman Gene Howe, and wrestler and humanitarian Cal Farley. Descriptions of business properties also detail such events as Amarillo's skyscraper boom of the mid-20s, its role for a time as world helium supplier, and its response to both the railroad and Route 66.

Other areas of particular interest documented here are the development of early churches in the area, WPA projects like the Veterans' Administration Hospital, the evolution of fraternal lodges, including a black fraternal lodge, and the history of the railroads. The Santa Fe Railroad; the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway; and the Chicago, Rock Island, and Gulf Railroad all stopped in Amarillo at one time or another and left their marks upon this Panhandle town.

What else should I know?

Although much of the historical/biographical information here is significantly detailed, the focus of the data is largely on architectural significance of the properties. The data is most easily accessed when the user knows a family name or business name in an area of significant interest.