|The Inter-Continental Motors Building at 3303 Broadway in San Antonio. Photo by Kelly Little|
Mid Tex Mod enjoyed the opportunity to tour one of San Antonio’s Modern gems during our recent board meeting: O’Neil Ford’s Inter-Continental Motors building. Owner Glenn Huddleston opened the now vacant building to MTM while Harper Huddleston, along with his son Max, took the time to lead our group on a tour of the site.
|Harper Huddleston gave our group |
a tour and history of the building.
Note the coffered concrete ceiling.
The International-style building at 3303 Broadway was designed by San Antonio architect O’Neil Ford and his associate Howard Yong. The Intercontinental Motors company was the distributorship of Volkswagen and Porsche automobiles for a five-state area which included Texas. Constructed in 1963, this building was one of many auto dealerships that developed along Broadway’s “Automobile Row” in the early- to mid-20th century. The glass and steel portion of the building was an automobile showroom for the Volkswagen dealership, while rear and side structures served as maintenance facilities. The building was awarded a Texas Society of Architects Honor Award when it was completed, and, at its opening in 1964, was dubbed “One of the World’s Most Beautiful Dealerships” by Weathervane magazine. Volkswagon was the original owner and operator of the property from the 1960s until it was leased to Ugly Duckling Car Sales and then to Drive Time, who operated the building until their lease expired in 2003. Glenn Huddleston purchased the building in 2000/2001.
|Light fixtures characteristic Ford buildings.|
Unfortunately, many of the dealerships that once lined “Automobile Row” have been lost or are threatened. The Art Moderne-style Mitchell Motors Dodge Dealership at 1130 Broadway, one of the area’s most architecturally significant buildings, was recently demolished. Cavender Cadillac at 801 Broadway has been one of the area’s last remaining active dealerships, but recently announced that they are relocating to the suburbs. Despite these losses, there is awareness of the area's history and importance within the San Antonio preservation community. The San Antonio Conservation Society included Automobile Row within as part of their Roadside Treasures: Buildings of the Automotive Era self-guided driving tour. And the Inter-Continental Motors building was the recipient of AIA San Antonio’sTwenty-Five Year Distinguished Building Award in 2012.
|Original terrazzo flooring in the showroom.|
Fortunately, Inter-Continental Motors is in the hands of owners who intend to preserve and adaptively reuse it. Harper Huddleston noted to our group that he grew up in an O’Neil Ford house and that Modern architecture has always been part of their family culture. Although no spe The family would generally like to turn it into a mixed use development with a combination of retail and offices; the possibility of residential has been discussed but is unlikely given the layout of the building. Harper said that he would love to see a restaurant in the main showroom but wants to ensure that the room’s character-defining features -- such as the terrazzo floors and concrete coffered ceiling -- would not be negatively impacted.cific plan is in the works at the moment, Harper said that they have big ideas for the building.
|Board members Kelly Little, Rick Black, Caroline Wright, Stuart |
Johnson, Kathy Cordova, Charles Peveto, Rick Black, and Amy Estes.
After touring Inter-Continental Motors, our board headed just down the street to the Googie-inspired Jim’s Diner for our business meeting (and maybe a few milkshakes). The biggest topic of conversation was Docomomo’s upcoming Tour Day 2014. Stay tuned for September 9 when the agenda for Mid Tex Mod’s Tour Day event, and events from our partners across the state and country, will be announced.
|Thanks for organizing the tour, Stuart! And we sincerely appreciate the Huddlestons hosting our group.|