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Olvera Building: Brownsville, TX



Brothers Jose and Miguel Fernandez erected several buildings in downtown Brownsville during the late 1800s, including the Olvera Building in 1882. Located adjacent to the market square and government center, it was built as a hotel, but has served a variety of commercial uses over the years. Olvera Shoe Repair was one of the longest tenants, occupying a portion of the building from the mid-1930s through the late twentieth century and giving the building its common name. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019 as part of the Central Brownsville Historic District.

The architecture is a unique local vernacular known as Border Brick. Common to the Rio Grande Valley, Border Brick is an amalgam of Creole, Spanish, and Mexican vernacular with elements of the American Greek Revival style. Distinctive features include local buff brick walls, French doors in lieu of windows, and broad wood balconies spanning the second story supported on wrought iron posts. The interior spaces are arranged around an open courtyard that provides additional light and ventilation to the interior spaces.


Kristen McSparren

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