Historic Permian Building, Midland, TX.
by Chad Hauris, Retro Electronics and Audio Lab,
Midland, TX. 1/7/07, updated 3/27/07
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.
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.
This cropped view shows the 6-story Permian Building and the Gihls
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
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.
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.
Notice the streamlined canopy. This was an entrance to the former
Courtyard Corner restaurant.
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. All of the elevator logic was controlled by
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 generator and motor. The generator would run continuously
so that power was available when someone called for the elevator.
Otis control transformer and selenium rectifiers. The three-phase power
main switch can be seen opened on the wall.
Elevator car station on the 6th floor.
Hallway on the 6th floor. All of the doors, ceilings, carpet, and lamps
have been removed.
Exit sign leading to the stairwell. The stairwell is in the front of
the building and is well lit with windows.
Looking down the stairs to the former restaurant.
Bar area in the former restaurant.
Demolition on the first floor.
Carrier water-cooled chiller for air conditioning in the boiler room.
The boiler room is in the basement, accessed through stairs in the
Pipes in the boiler room.
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.
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.
Closer view of Permian Building 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.
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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