Texas Heritage, Winter 1985

The J.H. Sturgis House, Waco, (Circa 1887). The detail in this beautiful example of an early symmetrical Victorian house is set off by the simplicity of the
brick walls. Photo courtesy of Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Photographer, Todd Webb.

of twentieth-century revivals of the
nineteenth-century revivals would be
excessively complex. We will avoid
some of this confusion by limiting our
discussion to architectural styles that
were prevalent in Texas prior to the
First World War.
Whereas the Atlantic seaboard region
of North America went through a transition
in the late eighteenth century
from the English Colonial Style (Georgian)
to the American Federal Style
(Adamesque), the dominant architectural
style throughout the eighteenth
century in Texas was Spanish Colonial.
Because the Spanish Colonial
Style is best exemplified by the mis20

sions that were constructed in the Hispanic
settlements in Texas, New Mexico,
Arizona, and California, the
buildings of the period are also frequently
described as the Mission Style
and sometimes as Spanish Baroque or
Mexican Baroque.
The Baroque characteristics of the
Spanish Colonial Style include vigorous
and bold architectural forms
such as those that embellish the facades
of the missions in San Antonio.
For example, columns with twisted
shafts enliven the front of the Mission
San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo)
with a dynamic sense of constricted
energy. The undulations of the forms
have an inherent feeling of movement
that actively unifies the component

parts of the design. The subordination
of the elements to the overall effect is a
Baroque mode of design that is even
more evident in the robust collection of
festive items that enrich and emphasize
the entry way to the Mission San
Jose y San Miguel de Aquayo with a
profusion of boldly projecting forms
that are extraordinarily tactile as revealed
by the sun with strong highlights
and deep shadows. A multitude
of sculptural figures intricately interlock
in a distribution that further emphasizes
continuity and movement. In
particular, the way in which the figures
overlap the architectural forms, such
as the horizontal cornice and the vertical
pilasters, diminishes the separation
of the parts and enhances the
fusion into a totally unified scheme.

Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Winter 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45443/. Accessed April 20, 2014.