Who Are These People And Why Were They Important To El Paso?
There are many buildings around El Paso named after people. You'll probably recognize the names but do you know who they were and why they're honored this way?
Schools are big on using famous names. With all the different school functions and athletic events that happen, most everyone in town is familiar with those names. Whether they're parents or not.
If you know the names but not the history behind these people, keep reading.
Here are a few of the stories, starting with some schools:
- Andress High School - Named after attorney Ted Andress, a former President of the El Paso Board of Education and also the Texas Association of School Boards.
- Chapin High School - Named for John L. Chapin, a war hero who grew up in El Paso, Texas.
- Irvin High School - Named after Dr. O. C. Irvin, the first superintendent of the (then) El Paso City School District. Future members of the Irvin family also held key positions within the school board/system. (learn more here)
These 3 high schools are all in the Northeast and have developed quite a rivalry over the years.
On to college now.
UTEP is not named after an individual but many structures on its campus are.
- Don Haskins Center - Don Haskins was the UTEP Miners Basketball coach from 1961 - 199. In addition to a ton of championship wins, he also broke the NCAA color barrier in 1966 by starting an all black lineup. (This inspired "Glory Road".)
- Magoffin Theater - Joseph Magoffin was a wealthy El Paso "pioneer" and businessman who held many public offices. He was also quite a "cheerleader" for the burgeoning town of El Paso as well as Juarez. His home is open to the public.
- Fox Fine Arts Center - Josephine Marsalis Clardy Fox was a real estate investor and philanthropist. Despite a life filled with financial and physical setbacks, she sponsored many charities and, upon her death, willed $3 million dollars to UTEP.
Enough of school, let's wander around Downtown.
- Anson Mills Building, - Named for Anson Mills who is often referred to as the "Father of El Paso". Among other things, he laid out the original plans for, (and named), El Paso.
- Bassett Tower - Commissioned by Charles Bassett, named for his father, Oscar T. Bassett. Another "pioneer" El Pasoan, Oscar was one of the founders of the State National Bank. (El Paso's first bank.)
- The Kress Building - This one is currently being extensively renovated, the Kress Building was part of a national chain of stores founded by Samuel Henry Kress.
- The Abdou Building - Once the Rio Grande Valley Bank, it was sold in 1925 to Sam Abdou and has pretty much been known as the Abdou building ever since.
No, on to malls:
Bassett Place - El Paso's first open air mall was named for Charles Bassett. Bassett was a former El Paso Chamber of Commerce president and chairman of the board for the State National Bank. (Son of O.T. Bassett.)