Harlingen’s Casa del Sol is the work of young architects Alan Y. Taniguchi and Charles B. Croft – 1961- It boasts a radial, thin shell concrete roof that evokes a sombrero, justifiable inasmuch as the shape was generated by the material and process of construction.
Like many buildings from the mid century era, Casa del Sol has seen better days, but it still fascinates us with its unusual roof and rounded circunference. Historian Norman Rozeff wrote an article for the Valley Morning Star about Harlingen’s local parks where he mentions how Casa del Sol came to be a welcomed tourist attraction enjoyed by those visitors we have named Winter Texans. It is never too late to restore midcentury modern buildings like Casa del Sol which featured floor to ceiling windows.
With great foresight the city moved to erect a major facility on the site. Architect Alan Y. Taniguchi of the firm of Taniguchi and Croft of Harlingen was awarded the design contract for what was to become the avant garde Casa del Sol.
In April 1961 W. B. Uhlhorn Construction was selected as the low bidder at $91,290 for the building itself but with heating and cooling amenities plus housing for these components would raise the total to $134,368. The Casa del Sol (1961) was erected on the park’s southeast corner. It is a domed structure with a scallop-shaped roof of thin-shelled concrete.
With its 120-foot diameter it has a seating capacity of 1,100 to 1,200 people together with a catering-type kitchen. The Harlingen Chamber of Commerce held a naming contest for this new facility. The City Commission selected Mrs. Charles Binney’s Casa del Sol over two other favorites, Easterling Hall and El Rondondo. In attendance at the February 1962 dedication was the 85-piece Harlingen High School band led by Carl Seale and a standing-room-only crowd.
Mayor Fred L. Paschall, in presenting a certificate to the widow of Finis Easterling, noted that her deceased husband had been instrumental in securing the center when he served on the commission. The building was dedicated in his memory. Norman Rozeff – December 14, 2012