Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Texas Homes of the zgth Century. By Drury Blakeley Alexander and
Todd Webb. Austin (University of Texas Press), 1966. Pp. 264.
Illustrations, bibliography, index. $15.00.
This interesting pictorial sampling of nineteenth century Texas
homes should serve to alert the public to the importance of the
State's architectural heritage and to the excellent work being done by
the Texas Architectural Survey in preserving this heritage. Whatever
the outcome of the "bulldozer revolution" that is the inevitable result
of urbanization in twentieth century Texas, the extensive photographic
collections of the Survey and the intelligent enthusiasm of its workers
and scholars should insure the enlightened preservation of past tradi-
tions in some form.
This book, which is a collaborative work in which the text is sup-
plied by Professor Alexander of the University of Texas and the photo-
graphs by Todd Webb of Santa Fe, forms an introduction to the whole
subject of nineteenth century Texas architecture. Essentially it is a de-
scriptive and taxonomic rather than an analytical work. The houses are
grouped into three broad categories: "Frontier Settlement Architec-
ture," "Ante-Bellum South Architecture," and "Victorian Architec-
ture." Each section is prefaced by a descriptive introduction, the main
purpose of which is to clarify and define each of the styles. In these in-
troductions Professor Alexander is admirably clear and generally suc-
cessful in outlining the main building features and architectural char-
acteristics of a series of building styles which were unfortunately, for
the most part, derivative and hence leave him little opportunty for
inspiring discussions of architectural masterpieces. It is to Professor
Alexander's credit that he recognizes this fact and continually relates
Texas architecture to the broader framework of national styles.
At times, however, Professor Alexander allows his enthusiasm for
the nineteenth century to outrun better judgment. To say that the
Greek Revival "provided this nation with its highest level of archi-
tectural achievement" (p. 86) is to overlook the incredible originality
and achievement of the Chicago School of Architecture whose most
famous practitioners were Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan.
It is also to ignore the impressive present-day work of Johnson, Saari-
nen, and Kahn to name only a few.
The descriptive rather than analytical nature of the book is perhaps
mostly due to the photographs supplied by Webb. They represent a
fascinating gallery of picturesque old houses. While not as artistic as
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/. Accessed September 4, 2015.