22 Stories Tall and Over A Century of Stories to Tell
If you’ve ever explored Downtown Waco, even just once, then those big bold red letters that spell “ALICO” are something you’re familiar with. Being the tallest building located right in the heart of the city, it’s almost impossible to miss. This well-known landmark has been around since 1911 and has stood proudly throughout many significant moments in Waco’s history. However, not many can say they truly know the story of the ALICO building, so today we’re going to tell the tale of the iconic building.
The ALICO’s Backstory
The story of the ALICO starts with an insurance company. In 1910, the owners of the Amicable Life Insurance Company (ALICO) started their business and were looking for office space in the heart of Downtown Waco. Soon after purchasing a three-story building that belonged to the First National Bank, they began demolition. In 1911, exactly 12 months after construction began, the ALICO building was completed with 22 floors in total making it the tallest building west of the Mississippi River until the year 1929. At the time, the First National Bank occupied the first few floors and the insurance company rented out the remaining floors they weren’t using to serve as office spaces for other businesses.
Surviving Natural Disaster
To this day, it is still considered a miracle that the ALICO was able to withstand one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history. Known for being ahead of its time, the ALICO was built with metal frames strong enough to resist harsh weather conditions designed by architect, Roy E. Lane. A powerful F5 tornado descended in May 1953, destroying almost every building in Downtown Waco. Amazingly, the 22-story skyscraper was the only building that swayed but did not collapse. Many other buildings experienced irreversible damage while the ALICO’s was only superficial and minor.
Downtown Waco’s #1 Landmark
Today, the ALICO lives to tell the tales from over a century of life while still standing strong. Although a lot around it has changed, life inside the ALICO building remains the same. The Amicable Life Insurance Company is still using it as its home office while renting out the remainder of the office space for other growing businesses. The ALICO remains a successful office building and an iconic symbol.
It was even designated as a historical landmark by the Texas State Historical Commission in 1982 signifying its importance to our city!