Texas over Time: ALICO building, Waco

December 11, 2014 Amanda Norman

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

ALICO construction GIFConstruction photos by Gildersleeve, 1911; modern photo (photographer unknown), 1984

  • The ALICO, now a Waco landmark, was started in 1910 and completed in 1911, by the architecture firm Sanguinet and Staats, with the help of famous architect Roy Ellsworth Lane.
  • The parcel of land that the building currently sits on at the intersection of 5th and Austin Ave was home to several things before the ALICO came along. The first recorded use of the land was a small pond that served as a buffalo watering hole and fishing spot. Around the time of the Civil War, the pond had dried up, and a blacksmith shop was built by W.E. Oakes. The site was eventually home to a bank, which was present until being torn down to build the ALICO.
  • At 22 stories, the building was so large that people as far away as McGregor could see its construction with binoculars. It even made it into a Ripley’s Believe it or Not comic in the 1930s. At the time of its construction, it was the first skyscraper in Texas, making it the tallest building in Texas. It held this title until the construction of the Magnolia in Dallas in 1922.

Austin Avenue--before and after ALICOAustin Avenue, before (early 1900s) and after (1910s) the ALICO

  • The ALICO was originally the home of and contracted by the Amicable Life Insurance Company, as well as being the home of several prominent lawyers, organizations, and various other businesses such as the Corner Drug Store (creators of Dr Pepper).
  • The building weighs approximately 40 million pounds and required 2,004 freight cars worth of material to construct. The ALICO survived a direct hit by the 1953 tornado due to the wind resistant designs of Roy Lane, even though the RT Dennis building across the street was completely demolished.


“The New Amicable Life Building.” Waco Tribune Herald 12 Sep. 1954. Print.

Ryan, Terri Jo, and Randy Fiedler. “The Story of the ALICO Building: 100 Years, 22 Stories and 1 Towering Ego.” Waco Tribune-Herald 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 21 Aug. 2014.

See all of these images (plus a couple bonus ones you won’t want to miss!) on Flickr. GIFs and factoids by Braxton Ray, archives student assistant


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