Anson Mills Building

Did you know there are - or, rather, were - two separate Anson Mills Buildings? There was an Anson Mills in Washington, DC also. Same General Anson Mills, too! The Washington DC building was erected in 1902 and demolished in 1964. It was located near the White House (Strange that the ELP Mills building is close to the White House also!). Here it is:

The Anson Mills building, on the left, in Washington DC. Image credit: Historical Society of Washington DC

Quite literally, El Paso's Anson Mills and White House buildings have been combined into one single structure. Walking into the Oregon street entrance of the Mills, then proceeding forward for just a short distance, presents the beautiful atrium of the White House. There is a longish north-south hallway that is crossed that marks where the alleyway used to be. Outwardly, it still looks like two independent buildings; but in reality, it is one structure.

General Anson Mills was an officer in the United States Army, a surveyor, entrepreneur, and inventor. According to records at the Arlington National Cemetary, he both named and laid out the City of El Paso. In about 1860, he acquired part ownership in the Ponce de Leon Ranch, which was at the future location of the Mills building. In 1883, with partner J.F. Crosby, he built the Grand Central Hotel at that location. On February 11, 1892, the Grand Central burned to the ground (which indirectly gave birth to the Paso del Norte - but that's another story!). A few years later (1899?), Mills bought out his partner and built a two story mercantile and hotel.

In 1905 or 1906 he decided, based on the value of the property, to demolish the smaller building and build a large office building. Ground was broken on Monday, May 16, 1910 on this Trost & Trost masterpiece (El Paso Herald, 5/14/1910, pg 16). It has been difficult to find an exact completion date, however there is a 1/11/1911 image (reproduced below) during construction where all 12 floors are completed. I'll keep looking for an exact date, but this wonderful building may have taken around a year to build.

The Mills building is a reinforced concrete structure on a concrete foundation. According to the ASCE, it is a Texas Civil Engineering Landmark along with the Bataan Railway and the Franklin Canal. It is the only Texas commercial building with that distinction. When completed, it was the largest reinforced concrete building in the world. Between 1911 and 1930, it was the tallest Trost & Trost building in El Paso, succeeded by the O.T. Bassett Tower. I have sources that claim that it was the first reinforced concrete building in El Paso, but it was preceded by the Richard Caples building.

The building is another example of Henry Trost's uniquely brilliant Chicago School style with Sullivanesque features. Three other Trost buildings carry the same pedigree (Calishers, White House and Popular Dry Goods). The contractor was Atlanta's H.L. Stevens Construction company, and it was built for a (relatively) modest $300,000.00.

In the 1970s the building fell into disrepair and was largely vacant, but was remodeled (not restored) in 1975. They placed vertical rows of mirrored glass on the exterior and painted the structure brown. Eventually it grew plywood "patches".  After Paul Foster acquired the building in 2008, it was beautifully restored on the outside and remodeled inside.

I did a walk-around and walk through on September 25, 2018, and this building (both halves - Mills and White House) is beautiful. There is not a speck of dust, nary an imperfection, anywhere. No burnt out light bulbs. Every corner spotless. Look at the pictures below. It is difficult to describe that something like this exists in downtown El Paso. It is on every level as clean and as well maintained as the Cortez, although they are completely different presentations. Sorry, Mills, the Cortez is still my favorite - but wow. Just, wow. It makes a person feel very encouraged about the future of El Paso's downtown.

Quoting General Anson Mills from his book My Story: “By 1912 the only piece of property I had remaining in El Paso become so valuable that I tore down the two-story building then on it, and built a monolithic cement building twelve stories high, containing no steel beams, the concrete being held in place by steel rods interspersed thru the walls, columns, floor and roof. There is no wooden floor in the entire building from basement to turret, even the wash-boards in the rooms are made of cement and on all sides not exposed to parks the windows are fireproof. This was said to be the first building of the kind erected in the United States and, so far as I know, it is still the only one of that magnitude.”

Text and research provided to by Mark Stone. This historical narrative is derived from newspaper articles and City Directory accessed through the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project at and the University of North Texas (Denton) Digital Archives at

Late 1910, during construction. Otherwise uncredited image courtesy of the Trost Society Facebook Page

Under construction early January 1911. This picture is from the 1/11/1911 El Paso Herald, page 26. Ground was broken on this building less than 8 months prior to this image. Image credit: University of North Texas digital archives, via Library of Congress 

This is from the 8/24/1912 El Paso Herald, looks like an advertising insert. Image credit: University of North Texas digital archives, via Library of Congress 

This is a postcard of the following two photos. These photos and card are dated late 1911 because the White House/McCoy building is not present, and was completed in 1912. Note the St. Regis hotel to the right! The current (2018) building at that location is designed to look like the old Regis, according to the wonderful Mills security guard that walked with me throughout the property. Otherwise uncredited image courtesy of the Trost Society Facebook Page 

Otherwise uncredited image courtesy of the Trost Society Facebook Page

Otherwise uncredited image courtesy of the Trost Society Facebook Page

During her construction. Image credit: El Paso Historical Society

As she looks today. Note the construction stuff in the left foreground, associated with the Hilton remodel. Image taken by myself 8/13/2018

I like this. The name, Anson Mills, on the rounded corner of the building, facing the intersection of Mills and Oregon. I wish all of the other critical people in ELP's history had similar acclaim!! Picture taken by myself 8/13/2018

Picture taken by myself 8/13/2018

Picture taken by myself 8/13/2018

From 2 blocks north. A dominant building, even from a distance. Image taken by myself on 9/25/2018

Through the San Jacinto trees -- Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

The 303 Oregon entrance. Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

The entrance foyer, just inside the Oregon street entrance. Interior = Gorgeous. Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

This, believe it or not, used to be the alleyway between the White House and the Mills. Now it is an amazing hallway in the joined buildings. We are facing north. Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

The same hallway as the above picture, facing south. Former alleyway. Wow. Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

Looking east towards the Oregon St. entrance - Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

The White House atrium from the Anson Mills entrance hallway. Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

This and the image below are additional shots of the east foyer. Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018

Picture taken by myself 9/25/2018