Older architecture has many features you don’t see in most new buildings. The courtyard was a place where you entered, before entering the building. It set the mood and gave you a few moments to appreciate the building’s design before stepping inside. It may have also served as a meeting place to visit and relax on cooler morning and evenings, in shade provided by the structure and the trees that were almost always there.
This is another view of the Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library. The details in the brickwork and archways give it a unique character of age and sophistication you seldom see much anymore.