The building at 1200 S Presa Street originated as a gas station in 1932, occupying only a small 1,000 square foot area on the front side of the property. In 1942, an additional 3,000 square foot structure was built as an engine repair shop. The addition was made completely out of concrete, with rows of windows, and four large skylights.
In 1991, Mario’s Automotive, a service garage operated by Mario Montes, opened up in the former shop, becoming a fixture in the Lavaca Neighborhood.
This secondary 3,000 sq ft structure, now 75 years old, is still in sound condition, having been well preserved over the years. It is believed, though not confirmed, that it was built by Zachary Construction Corporation while the company was experimenting with early pan form concrete slabs to create a two-way structural system. This would have been revolutionary at the time, with concrete primarily being poured into wood and steel forms.
In order to plan for his retirement, Mario began the process of downsizing his business to the front side of the building in fall 2014, allowing F&M to use the original concrete structure for their studio and workshop.
In fall 2017, after over 25 years in the neighborhood, Mario formally retired, allowing F&M to utilize the entire building. As F&M settles in and continues to restore the structure, it will focus on the core materials of the building, and create an open and welcoming environment for the public to engage with art and design.