The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974

Temples of Knowledge:
Historic Mains of Texas Colleges and Universities
WILLARD B. ROBINSON*
N THE ARCHITECTURE OF NORTH AMERICA, AS IN THAT OF EUROPE AND
other continents, potentates and societies alike throughout historic times
have sought glorify with art those activities which they deemed most im-
portant to their ways of life, thereby expressing the nature of their cultural
as well as political values. Exemplifying these inclinations during colonial
days in the Northeast, formal compositions of handsome Classical details at
the gates of the enceintes announced the military significance of the mighty
French fortress of Louisbourg during the eighteen century and the im-
portance of the English citadel within Quebec during the nineteenth. In the
Southwest elaborate decoration in Baroque or Churrigueresque style on the
fronts of the Spanish colonial mission churches affirmed dedicated efforts of
ecclesiastical colonial activity while, at the same time, expressing adoration
for the Deity.
Likewise, the architectural features of nineteenth-century Texas buildings
communicate something of the values of the people who built them. The
monumental composition and Classical features of both the Greek Revival
and the Renaissance Revival state capitols exhibited deep-seated pride in
self-government. At the county level formal design and more or less opulent
decoration on the courthouses communicated confidence in local administra-
tion and justice-while each of the capitols during its era was the dominant
architectural landmark of the state, the courthouses were focal points of the
counties. Also expressing values of Texas society and surpassing many gov-
ernmental buildings in magnitude and opulence, however, were the edifices
dedicated to higher education. As with other public works erected through-
out the history of the republic and the state, the stylistic features of these
edifices expressed pride in the functions which they housed.
The cultural values reflected in the first temples of knowledge had their
roots in the early development of the Southwest. Among the distinguishing
qualities of the builders of the Lone Star Republic and State was certainly
their sincere dedication to enlightenment. Pursuing this ideal, settlers in the
*Willard B. Robinson is associate professor of architecture and curator of historical
architecture at Texas Tech University.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed July 10, 2014.