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

Book Reviews

ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
Austin, Texas: An American Architectural History. By Roxanne K. Wil-
liamson. (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1973. Pp. xxii + 161.
Illustrations, index. $12.)
This attractive volume surveys the architectural history of the Texas capi-
tal from its founding in 1839 to the present. Following a discussion of signifi-
cant details associated with the selection of the site for the town near the
banks of the Colorado River, descriptions of the 1839 Capitol, President's
House, and other frontier buildings are presented. The development of
various architectural styles and histories of prominent buildings follow in
chronological order, concluding with some recent work, the discussion of
which evolves into architectural criticism. Based upon early descriptions,
upon a study of heretofore unused manuscript documents, and upon studies
by other historians, the analysis of the early architecture makes a substantial
contribution to available information on the early Anglo-American archi-
tecture of Texas-an era needing much study and research.
Written in lively style, this book possesses attributes of a good architectural
history. It is well illustrated with a balance of clear modern photographs
taken by the author and a number of excellent historical photographs. Maps
of the city are included along with several building plans, although more of
the latter would have increased the value of the work. These are supple-
mented by line drawings of buildings, prepared by the author. A chrono-
logical listing of significant Austin buildings, their dates, designers, addresses,
and present state further contributes to the usefulness of the survey.
The omission of several appendages from the book will be inconvenient
for some. Although footnotes appear at the end of each chapter, the lack
of a bibliography will prove disadvantageous to students and researchers.
Also, the omission of a glossary may prove disappointing to general readers:
terms such as "piano nobile," "bead-and-real work," and "tourelle" do not
appear in the dictionaries found in most homes. In addition, the term,
"Texas Victorian," used to identify a specific style, needs explanation.
Examples of this style, the Houghton house and Littlefield house, are loaded
with Renaissance details recalling similar work found in other sections of the
country, but the Texas vernacular design character implied by the label is
not clearly defined.

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 August 31, 2014.