Tax Credit Program Highlight: Dorrance Building

Houston, Harris County



A Contributing Resource of the Market Square National Register Historic District

Historic Use


Current Use


Date Certified

January 29, 2018


Certified for state credits only.

Project Contact

Fretz Construction, Zimmerman Interest, SWCA Environmental Consultants


Built in 1903 at the behest of wealthy cotton broker John W. Dorrance, the Dorrance Building is a prime example of the city of Houston’s early commercial real estate. The Dorrance Building was constructed during the height of Houston’s early commercialization, when the city emerged in the late 1800s and early 1900s as the hub for railroad commerce in southeast Texas. Designed in the Italian Renaissance style by architects Green & Svarz, the Dorrance Building was originally a four-story building; however, a fifth story was added soon after. Notable tenants of the building have included the Houston Industrial Club, the Postal Telegraph Co., the National Bank of Commerce, Rice Institute, Baker & Botts, and the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Rehabilitation Project

As this building is not individually listed (it only contributes to an historic district and has no further designations), the applicant chose to complete an “exterior-only” rehabilitation. None of the interior spaces were reviewed or considered for the tax credits as part of this project application. The building is undergoing interior work on a later schedule, so the current work focused on repairs to the exterior components. Great care was taken to reglaze and repair the original wood windows on the front and the rear, and new compatible wood storefronts were installed to replace the non-historic door assemblies that had been installed sometime in the last 30 years. The elaborate painted brick facade was rejuvenated with a fresh coat of polychrome paint, which highlights its sculptural composition of pilasters, recessed panels, and Classical arches.

Photo Gallery

Click on any image to view the photo gallery.

  • As part of this project, the building received a fresh coat of paint on the facade. Painting exterior brick is NOT recommended if the brick was previously unpainted, as it creates additional upkeep, is difficult to remove, and actually makes the masonry more susceptible to deterioration.