Brownsville in Cameron County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
Built in 1928, the commercial building was designed by Baltazar Torres, a local building and architect. From 1945 until the mid-1980’s it operated as Whitman’s Army Store and pawnshop. The three metallic spheres suspended from the exterior of the window on the second floor are the historical symbol for a pawnbroker.
Erected by Brownsville Historical Association.
Location. 25° 54.167′ N, 97° 29.869′ W. Marker is in Brownsville, Texas, in Cameron County. Marker is at the intersection of East 11th Street and Market Square Street, on the left when traveling north on East 11th Street. Touch for map. Marker is mounted at eye-level, directly on the front center of the subject building, facing East 11th Street. Marker is at or near this postal address: 629 East 11th Street, Brownsville TX 78520, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. San Fernando Buildings (within shouting distance of this marker); Miguel Fernandez Hide Yard (within shouting distance of this marker); Fernandez Hide Yard (within shouting distance of this marker); Public Market and Town Hall (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Juan H. Fernandez y Hermano Building (about 400 feet away); Juan H. Fernandez Store (about 400 feet away); Manautou Building (about 400 feet away); Immaculate Conception Cathedral (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brownsville.
More about this marker. Marker is in the Brownsville Historical Trail series.
Also see . . .
1. History of the Pawnbrokers’ Symbol. The pawnbrokers’ symbol is three spheres suspended from a bar. The three sphere symbol is attributed to the Medici family of Florence, Italy, owing to its symbolic meaning of Lombard. This refers to the Italian province of Lombardy, where pawn shop banking originated under the name of Lombard banking. The three golden spheres were originally the symbol which medieval Lombard merchants hung in front of their houses, and not the arms of the Medici family. It has been conjectured that the golden spheres were originally three flat yellow effigies of byzants, or gold coins, laid heraldically upon a sable field, but that they were converted into spheres to better attract attention. (Submitted on June 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Bernie's had it all — almost. The store faced the heart of historic Market Square within steps of the Texas and Monterrey cafés and rubbing elbows with the local "cantinas,” always buzzing with patrons. What made the store popular were the unusual items placed in pawn and that were never redeemed. As you walked into the store you were immediately indulged with the hundreds of items that made up the most unique store in South Texas. He had no security cameras or uniformed guards protecting his investments. He didn’t need any; a real life bobcat roamed the store and could sniff out a pickpocket before any human could. Whitman’s Army Surplus Store faded with time, but the building remains like an old cathedral, to serve as a reminder of the business stature of Bernie Whitman. (Submitted on June 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Categories. • Architecture • Industry & Commerce • Notable Buildings •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 29, 2018. This page originally submitted on June 26, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 54 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.