Texas Heritage, Winter 1985

The architectural styles of Texas are extraordinarily
varied, indeed, as richly
diverse as those of any other state and
more so than most states. The differences
in climate, topography, and available
building materials among the
various regions of the state have contributed
to the multifarious architectural
forms within the state. Moreover,
the numerous traditions within the rich
cultural heritage of the state have produced
a multitude of building forms
that are uniquely distinct from one
A comprehensive catalog of every architectural
style to be found in Texas
would be extremely voluminous and
laboriously complex. Rather than attempting
to compile a list of all architectural
styles in Texas, we will limit
our selection to a few styles that are
notable because they are visually distinct
and because they have at some
time in the history of the state been
relatively prevalent in at least parts of
the state. By restricting our selection

of styles to a feasible number, we can
hopefully provide a more in-depth
analysis with greater emphasis upon
the salient characteristics of each
chosen style.
Not one of these selected styles, however,
is exclusively Texan. Each one
has been shared with at least certain
areas adjacent to Texas, and some of
these styles were relatively common
throughout the United States when
they were in vogue. But the combined
presence of these particular architectural
styles in Texas is still uniquely
Texan because together they provide a
considerable portion of the built environment
that both Texans and nonTexans
identify with the state.
Before analyzing these selected styles,
it should be noted that any discussion
of architectural styles in America is
complicated by several factors. One
problem is provided by the fact that
single buildings frequently combine
more than one architectural style. In

deed, some of the most memorable
and remarkable architectural designs
in Texas are eclectic fantasies that
merge two or more styles. A second
confusing situation inherent in any discussion
of American architectural
styles is the common practice of labeling
a single architectural style with
multiple names that may be synonymous
or may instead indicate subtle
variations. A third problem with the
names of American architectural styles
is that many of the names are misnomers.
But because most of these originally
misleading labels have become
commonly accepted, we will also resort
to using them. A fourth and final
problem with the jargon employed to
describe American architectural styles
is the confusion resulting from the fact
that many of the eighteenth-century
and nineteenth-century styles were
revived as period styles in the twentieth
century. Inasmuch that most nineteenth-century
styles in Texas were
already revivals of earlier European
styles, an examination of the multitude

by: Michael Yardley

Gano Log House, built near Dallas, (Circa 1845-1846). An example of a dog-trot house. The
arrangement of this type of log house is characterized by an open hall between two rooms under a
single roof. As was typical, the Gano House was enlarged with the additions of a porch, a second
story, and two rear sheds. Photo courtesy of Michael Yardley.


Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Winter 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45443/. Accessed August 31, 2015.