Architectural DetailsMaking History

bracketNorwood Firsts

Architectural Details

A Changing of Hands

“Gothic crazy” Watt Harris is credited with the building’s Gothic Revival design which romanticizes the medieval past with pointed arches, finials and adornments that feature gargoyles, a magnificent Gothic clock tower façade, decorative motifs representing the medical and legal professions, and stepped back top floors that give the building its picturesque, castle-like silhouette. The elevator shaft terminates in a decorative tower on the 16th floor. The exterior of the steel-framed building was yet another Norwood innovation; its shell was built entirely of pre-cast concrete that bears a close resemblance to Austin native limestone.

Gothic Architecture“The view of the Norwood Tower is very sustaining for me… It brings back many memories… My father had a copy of one of the ferocious-looking gargoyles which he would put in the room of anyone in the family complaining of illness and take to the hospital rooms of his sick friends, I guess so they could see a face in more pain than theirs.” – Watt Harris Jr., son of the architect

Inside, Italian travertine marble covered the lobby walls from ceiling to terrazzo-tiled floors. Ladies operated three modern elevators until the mid-sixties. The original, heavily tooled brass elevator doors still grace the main lobby with their Art Deco medallions.

Windows in the 1929 building had a hook on the outside so window washers could suspend themselves. No one in Austin would go up, so Norwood contracted with a Dallas company. The window-washer eventually left the Dallas company and stayed at the Norwood Building permanently.