With the growth of the Coastal Bend’s population in the early 1900s came an increasing workload for the government agencies needed to support those residents. In 1908, Congressman John Nance Garner — later FDR’s Vice President — secured funds to build a new Federal Building in Corpus Christi, as the leased offices were no longer accommodating the growing workload. The building opened in December 1916, after Garner worked to increase the funding from Congress to $140,000.
Initially, the Federal Building was home to the Post Office and U.S. Customs office, and served as the federal courthouse. In the decade that followed, more federal departments moved into the new building. It is here that young men stood in line following Pearl Harbor to speak to a military recruiter, and Eight Naval Division coordinated to track German U-Boats in the Gulf from the second floor. It also was home to the U.S. Weather Bureau, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshal, IRS offices and immigration offices. If the people of Corpus Christi needed to speak to someone in a federal agency, this is where they could be found.
As the population continued to grow and services were moved back out of the Federal Building, federal courts expanded into more of the building. Although many know this as an old courthouse, there’s one major difference that has led to this building still standing and staying well-kept today — it was purchased and occupied by Thomas J. Henry Law when the current courthouse on Shoreline opened in 2001. Hopefully, it will serve long past its current 106 years on Starr Street.