C.N. Buckler Block / CVS Pharmacy

Located at the corner of Texas and Mesa in downtown El Paso, the Henry Trost designed C.N. Buckler Block bears one of the most interesting historical narratives of any downtown structure. Currently, the recently restored and remodeled building is home to the CVS Pharmacy.

The original Buckler was erected in 1902, designed by prolific El Paso architect Edward Kneezell. and was the long-time home to the Calishers Department Store on the first floor along with the temporary offices of the Joshua Raynolds owned American National Bank. The second floor was occupied by a number of real estate businesses, including the home of brokers "El Paso Rental Agency" (proprietor Jay F. Knox) in room 9, "McKenney" also in room 9, "J.C. Roberts & Sons" in room 11, "Anderson-Filler" in room 11, and "Cassidy and Davidson" in rooms 4 and 5. The third floor was home to the Knights of the Pythian Lodge Rooms, where around 20 lodges had their meetings.

On Sunday, August 14, 1910, at 2:15am, the Buckler was destroyed by a fire that tragically took the lives of a firefighter, Todd Ware, and the Mayor of El Paso, W.F. Robinson. At least three more firemen were injured. While inspecting the building later in the morning after the fire was extinguished, the second and third story front brick wall collapsed onto the sidewalk crushing its victims.

Quoting the El Paso Times article from 8/15/1910: "A voice shouted "look out." Mayor Robinson glanced up, saw death coming and instinctively threw up his hands to protect his face and took one swift step towards the curb, when the avalanche of brick and mortar crashed down upon him pitilessly, carrying him to the earth, crushing his skull, breaking every rib in his left side, crushing his breast bone and breaking both legs."

Todd Ware was the first firefighter in El Paso to give his life protecting its citizens. The death of the mayor, and the first death of an ELP firefighter, are significant milestones in El Paso history.

The Trost & Trost version of the Buckler Block was built to replace the burnt 3 story building. Mrs. C.N. Buckler had traveled from Long Beach, California, where she was vacationing, in the aftermath of the fire. While here, she received two very generous offers for the property; a $200,000 offer from First National Bank, and a $250,000 offer from Rio Grande Valley Bank for use as an investment property (El Paso Herald, 8/27/1910), however she instead opted to hire Henry Trost to replace the building.

The C.N. Buckler Block was built on the existing concrete foundation from the razed structure, and cost only $25,000. It was a brick building, completed in the Chicago School architectural style. The bottom floor has been remodeled repeatedly for specific occupants (McCrory, W.T. Grant, CVS Pharmacy) however the second floor retains the Trost design, as evidenced by pictures of the initial build. Again, like at other Trost properties, the brickwork is painted now but was not at the time of the building's completion in 1911. The second floor of the Trost structure is in a U shape facing Texas Ave.

During his exile in El Paso, Pancho Villa would visit the Elite Confectionery on the first floor of the building daily, ordering chocolate-covered ice cream "baseballs" with a strawberry soda, costing him a dime. A historical marker on the south side of the building documents his addiction to this shoppe.

On a side note, the term "Buckler Block" was not a reference to the city block. At that time an office building would frequently be referred to as a Block, because it was a "block" of offices.

The building is currently owned by CVS pharmacies, who renovated the structure in 2013.

Text and research provided to Sketchclub.net by Mark Stone. This historical narrative is from newspaper articles accessed through the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project at https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ and the University of North Texas (Denton) Digital Archives at https://texashistory.unt.edu/

The wall collapse. Image courtesy of Joel Guzman via the El Paso History Alliance

Image: Findagrave dot com

Shortly after the Trost rebuild, probably 1915. Otherwise uncredited image is via the Trost Society Facebook page. The smokestack in the background is on the Hotel Paso del Norte.

The Texas Avenue face of the building. This is the current south side of the CVS Pharmacy. The business signs date this image 1915 like the photo above. Image credit: El Paso Public Library's Aultman collection.

The building in 1918. Image courtesy of Joel Guzman via the Trost Society Facebook page.

El Paso Herald 8/17/1910. Image credit Library of Congress

El Paso Herald 8/17/1910. Image credit Library of Congress

Here's a picture of the building before the CVS remodel. It looks a lot better now! Image credit: El Paso History Museum via Digie

During the CVS renovation. Image Credit: El Paso Inc.

The C.N. Buckler Block sign on the southeast corner of the building, facing Mesa St. Picture taken by myself on 8/13/2018

The southeast corner, from across Mesa. Picture taken by myself on 8/13/2018

The Mesa side of the building. CVS is taking very good care of the building. Note the Plaza Hotel photobomb! Picture taken by myself on 8/13/2018

The view of the building from across Texas Ave, standing in front of W.S. Hills. The second floor "U" shaped structure is gorgeous, although I wish they'd find somewhere else to put the dumpsters. Picture taken by myself on 8/13/2018

The southeast corner, from across Texas standing in front of Abdou. Picture taken by myself on 8/13/2018