Waco Historic Landmark Preservation Commission Recognize Jed and Rebecca Walker

The Waco Historic Landmark Preservation Commission held its annual Historic Preservation Excellence Awards ceremony on Sept. 13. Jed and Rebecca Walker received an Award of Excellence for an Adaptive Reuse of a Commercial Structure for the Pioneer Professional Building, 823 Washington Ave.

Pioneer Savings and Loan was founded in Waco in 1922. It had the marble-fronted building at 823 Washington Ave. built in 1955 during a postwar housing boom. There was a law firm in the upstairs area at the time.

Southwest Savings bought the Pioneer Savings and Loan Company in 1987, but the company failed in 1991 during the savings and loan crisis. Its assets were sold to a Kilgore company that closed the branches downtown and on Valley Mills Drive.

The building remained vacant until 2008 when it was purchased — along with most of the 800 block of Washington Avenue — by Gordon Robinson. He sold it to George E. “Jed” Walker, president of Walker Partners Engineering Firm, in 2017. Keith Bailey of RBDR Architects was hired to design the remodel.

Recognizing that it is one of the few mid-century designs in downtown Waco, Walker did not want to make any radical alterations to the look of the building. It is notable for its black and white marble exterior, its corner atrium, large windows and original floors of terrazzo and travertine.

The entire building was gutted and reconstructed around the original building foundation and frame. A new elevator was installed, but the old elevator shaft was preserved, complete with a skylight that allows sunlight into all floors.

Walker Partners Engineering now calls its renovated Waco office the Pioneer Professional Building, paying homage to the original Pioneer Savings and Loan building. With about 35 employees in Waco, Walker Partners occupies the entire first floor and portions of the second floor.