Historic Permian Building, Midland, TX.
by Chad Hauris, Retro Electronics and Audio Lab, Midland, TX. 1/7/07, updated 3/27/07

Permian Building page 2: More Demolition

The Permian Building, built in 1933, was among Midland's first large office buildings, located at the corner of Big Spring and Texas streets. Initially, the first two stories were built. Then, in 1945 with the construction of the V&J (Gihls) Tower next door, an additional 4 stories were added to the top.
This photo from the Midland Reporter-Telegram discussion forum shows an aerial view of Midland in 1957 with the Permian Building.

Midland Texas in 1957.
The large building at the top left is the Western United Life building, currently vacant. The Permian Building is toward the top center, and next to it is Gihls Tower. This building was once called the V&J tower but was most recently called Gihls Tower. It has 14 stories and was built in 1945.

Permian Building and Gihls Tower, 1957.
This cropped view shows the 6-story Permian Building and the Gihls Tower.

According to the Midland Convention and Visitor's Bureau, President George W. Bush had an office in the building in the late 1970's. Each floor of the building has 2 long corridors which lead to small offices.
In the late 1970's and very early 1980's Midland probably experienced its greatest period of economic success, with the downtown streets crowded with people. During this "boom" time of the 70's, many historic buildings were demolished or remodeled to try to give the town an up-to-date look. For some reason, historical preservation seemed to take a back seat to trying to modernize buildings.
More tall office towers were built, and stucco was applied to red brick buildings dating back to the 1920's.

In the early 1980's the price of oil dropped which led to very hard times in Midland. Most of the industry in Midland is based on all the facets of petroleum exploration and production and the low prices were devastating. People began to move away from the town, leaving many 1960's/70's style buildings vacant. Only a few historically styled buildings, such as the Midland Tower, old First National Bank building, Hogan Building (Petroleum Building), Yucca Theatre, and the Permian Building, survived.

By the early 2000's the economy was starting to improve slightly in Midland and began to really take off in around 2004/2005 with markedly higher oil prices again. The bottom floor of the Permian Building was remodeled and much was invested in air conditioning and other physical plant upgrades for a restaurant, the Courtyard Cafe, which was installed in the first floor. By this time, the offices in the Permian Building were vacant. The restaurant was not a success, and the entire building became vacant.

In June 2006, four downtown buildings (the Vaughn Building, the Permian Building and Gihls Tower, and another modern office building, One Wall Plaza) were put up for auction. All of the buildings were available for viewing and John and I inspected the Permian Building and Gihls Tower.
At that time, the Permian Building was in reasonably good shape, still retaining a 1970's style decor. The offices had wood doors with glass windows and were carpeted. Restrooms were furnished in pastel tile and were still in good shape.
The Gihls Tower was in a lot worse shape, having been abandoned for much longer. Paint was peeling off the walls and bird droppings were on the floors from birds that came in through the open windows.
The Permian Building and Gihls Tower sold but apparently the deal fell through. The owners did find another buyer for the building though.

By December 2006, a fence was erected around the buildings and we thought they may have been readied for refurbishement. It turns out they were being demolished to make way for a parking garage. The demolition company allowed us to look around the buildings for salvageable materials for historical preservation. We would like to try to salvage the elevator equipment and few remaining features such as exit signs from the Permian Building. Please note that we have no ownership interest in the Permian Building and do not condone its demolition: we would very much rather see it preserved.

Permian Building facade.
Front of the Permian building, Jan. 5, 2007. It retains a true 1930's art moderne style. The elevator penthouse can be seen at the top.

Side of Permian Building, streamlined window trim.
Notice the streamlined canopy. This was an entrance to the former Courtyard Corner restaurant.

Permian Building elevator penthouse.
At the top of the building is the elevator penthouse. Outside the window is a neon sign transformer and some broken neon tubing which must have lit up the top of the building. When we talked to a long-time Midland resident, she could recall the penthouse area at one time being lit up in different colors.

Otis Elevator relay panel.
Otis Elevator relay panel. All of the elevator logic was controlled by mechanical relays.

Otis DC motor and motor-generator.
Motor-Generator at left and DC hoist motor at right. The motor-generator consists of a 3-phase AC motor coupled to a DC generator. DC was used for the motor as the motor could be much more easily controlled in speed and direction than an AC motor using the technology of the times.

Close up of motor and generator.
Close-up of generator and motor. The generator would run continuously so that power was available when someone called for the elevator.

Otis elevator selenium rectifier
Otis control transformer and selenium rectifiers. The three-phase power main switch can be seen opened on the wall.

Otis elevator governor.
Otis governor.

Permian Building Elevator doors.
Elevator car station on the 6th floor.

Permian building hallway.
Hallway on the 6th floor. All of the doors, ceilings, carpet, and lamps have been removed.

Permian building exit sign.
Exit sign leading to the stairwell. The stairwell is in the front of the building and is well lit with windows.

Looking down the stairwell.
Looking down the stairs to the former restaurant.

Former bar area in the Permian Building.
Bar area in the former restaurant.

Demolition on the first floor of the building.
Demolition on the first floor.

Carrier chiller in Permian Building.
Carrier water-cooled chiller for air conditioning in the boiler room. The boiler room is in the basement, accessed through stairs in the courtyard.

Pipes in boiler room.
Pipes in the boiler room.

Permian Building boiler.
Permian Building boiler and chimney.

Update: Feb. 27, 2007. Demolition has begun at the rear of the Permian Building and Gihls Tower. Here are some photos from mid-Feburary 2007.

Gihls tower demolition.
At the left is One Wall Plaza. Gihls Tower is in the middle with the holes knocked in it. Next to it is the rear of the Permian Building. At right is the Metro Building.
This photo was taken in a parking lot on the site of the former S&Q Men's Clothing Store.

Gihls tower and Permian Building demolition.
Closer view of Permian Building demolition.

Closeup of Gihls Tower demolition.
Closer view of demolition. A Bobcat tractor was hoisted up into the holes to demolish the interior.

Update 3/6/07: Here are some more demolition photos. The steel structure of the Gihl's Tower is exposed and still looks like new.

Gihl's tower demolition.

Gihls tower demolition.

Gihls tower and Permian Building demolition.

Gihls tower demolition.

S and Q Clothier's inlay into floor.
The parking lot behind the Gihls Tower bears an artifact from the S&Q Clothiers shop which used to occupy this space. Many of the parking lots of downtown Midland were created on demolished building sites and still have artifacts such as floor tiles intact.

We welcome any additional information or corrections, please email

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