Early Anglo-American Church Architecture
WILLARD B. ROBINSON*
SOMETHING OF THE VALUES AND CONDITION OF A SOCIETY ARE EMBOD-
ied in its architecture. In general the types of buildings and their
placement within a community broadly indicate societal organization;
the level of artistic expression can suggest the hierarchical importance
of certain structures; and stylistic characteristics ordinarily identify the
period during which individual structures were erected.
During the early years of Anglo-American colonization (1821-
ca. 186o), a kaleidoscope of architecture marked the Republic of Texas
and later the state of Texas. At first a remarkable variety of construc-
tion appeared, resulting from the different materials yielded by the
land and the various skills of immigrant builders. Then a diverse artis-
tic expression developed, emanating from the varied intellectual back-
grounds of building designers. This heterogeneity was amplified by the
changes in society that influenced both the need and capacity to build
churches, as well as other types of structures.
The manifold religious organizations in Texas vitally affected the de-
velopment of ecclesiastical architecture. During the nineteenth cen-
tury, the relationship between church and state, the development of
various denominations, the growth of congregations, and the talents of
individuals entrusted with the responsibility of building all influenced
the design of houses of worship.
During the four decades between Mexican independence (1821) and
the Civil War (1861-1865), while Texas was under the flags of three
nations, conditions conducive to building varied. While Texas was a co-
state with Coahuila, Roman Catholic and Apostolic religion, though
mandated by law, virtually ceased to exist in an organized church.
Then, following Texas independence, the Church, which had been a
key institution in Spanish colonization, was reestablished, a develop-
* Willard B. Robinson is Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of architecture at Texas Tech Univer-
sity and an adjunct professor of museum science He expresses his appreciation for the assis-
tance of Jean M. Robinson in the preparation of this paper.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed May 27, 2015.