Bldg.113—Cavalry Barracks






Text Box: Bldg.113—Cavalry Barracks




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The elongated “T” plan Cavalry building was used to house Cavalry units until WWI, when it became the Quartermaster warehouse and commissary.  A devastating hurricane on September 4-5, 1933 struck Brownsville and caused extensive damage to the post. Winds were estimated at 125 miles an hour after 106 wind gusts blew the anemometer away.  

One of the buildings on the fort that received damage was the Cavalry Building No. 113.  A larger (100 feet longer) but identical Artillery barracks (No. 133), built by Wainwright near the area where the Brownsville Compress towers now stand, was heavily damaged and was deemed “not habitable” on the Post Engineer’s Record.  It was probably too far removed from the active base and no longer needed to warrant repairs.  Much of the Cavalry Quarters veranda must have been damaged and removed as it does not appear on either post records.  Runyon photographs show how the porch looked in the early 1900’s.  They are also a record of the building’s appearance before the north wing extension was added.  Old bricks juxtaposed by new bricks make this noticeable.

Repairs were made in June of 1934. By the 1930’s, the T-plan structure’s central block was used as the Main Post Quartermaster’s Office sales commissary office with the Commissary and Clothing and Equipage Storeroom in the north wing and subsistence storeroom in the south.  Partitioned walls show up on more detailed 1936 floor plans with little change to space usage.  Revised records from 1942 label it as the Post Commissary with both wings as storerooms and an exterior wood framed “issue shed” attached to the north wing.  A roofed open passageway separated the main block from the central block.  It is not known when the central block was attached to the main by brick.

Maps show there were two brick N.C.O. officer’s duplexes and a garage where the Smith Amphitheater and parking lot are now and a “wash rack” on the corner of Gorgas Drive and Ringgold Road.  There was a laundry and “motor transport” building for the 12th cavalry across the street where the New Student Union now sits. Adjacent to the west wing and across the street where the Bookstore now sits, stood a shoe repair shop and medical dispensary for the 124th cavalry.  A wide open corral in front of Cavalry extended up to the entrance of the Rusteberg building.  Four warehouses once stood where the Life, Health and Sciences building is. Two barracks buildings were constructed behind Building 113 around 1940 and were removed in the late 1990s’.  A small plate with number “113” can still be seen above the entrance.

The Cavalry building was not immediately used by the college.  A Sandborn fire insurance map from 1949 indicates the west wing was used by Sears & Roebuck for warehouse storage and the east wing to house auto supplies storage with a cold storage room at the far end.  The central block is labeled as general storage.  Other former Army buildings belonging to the city behind Cavalry appear to have also been used as commercial rental spaces bordered by Brownsville Compress warehouses.  These compress warehouses were former hay barns. 

The building appears to have been used by the college throughout the 1980’s for electronics technology classrooms.  Campus Police, which was once in the Old Morgue building and later in Building 23 (Married Officer's Quarters) during the mid to late 80’s later moved into Cavalry with Student Health Services with room for computer classrooms.  Renovation and reconstruction of roofed porches were planned by Design Five Architects and contracted to the Jearel Adams Construction Co.  At the time of this writing it was still in use by Campus Police and Student Health Services had relocated to the Cortez complex.  The west wing, used by Business Administration, will have a new function once the Education and Business Complex currently under construction is complete.  The east wing is used by Computer Sciences and Computer Information Systems.  Campus Police plans to expand its use of the central block by relocating its dispatcher office.                    







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The Arnulfo L. Oliveira Literary Society

The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College

80 Fort Brown

Brownsville, Texas


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This site was last updated 10/20/04