Texas Heritage, Winter 1985

This example of the Spanish Colonial
Style, however, is not simply Baroque.
Whereas the ample and dynamic forms
are Baroque, some of the other elements
are instead delicate and linear.
The parts that are more fragile and
two-dimensional have more in common
with the eighteenth-century European
Rococo than with the seventeenthcentury
European Baroque. These
Rococo elements also establish a sense
of movement, but it is a movement that
is more refined because it is achieved
with the gently curving lines of foliagelike
motifs with minute details creating
patterns across the surfaces. Although
Rococo aspects are frequently present
in examples of the Spanish Colonial
Style, the term Rococo is not generally
used to describe architecture in Texas
and the adjacent Hispanic areas. Instead,
the lavish surface ornamentation
with a proliferation of tiny, intricate
elements is sometimes called
Churrigueresque. The name is derived
from the Churriguera family of sculptors
who were active in Barcelona in
the early eighteenth century.
The Baroque and Rococo decorations
clearly draw our attention to the facades
of missions in Texas. This emphasis
upon frontality and the focus
upon the entrance are Baroque characteristics.
But the lack of ornamentation
on the other parts of a mission is
extraordinarily severe. As a result,
there is an emphatic contrast between
the embellished portions and the rather
spartan character of the remainder of
the building. The dichotomy is greater
than generally found in the Baroque
churches of Europe. The massive masonry
walls of a mission in Texas have
few apertures. They provide a simple
enclosure that is protective and utilitarian
in character.
In the early nineteenth century, a nonSpanish
form of vernacular building
arrived in Texas during the period
when the region was controlled by
Mexico. This different tradition for
constructing buildings was brought to
the area by Anglo-American settlers.
There is no generally accepted term

The George House, Piano, (Circa 1900). A Queen Ann house in North America is distinguished by
the juxtapositioning of a multitude of varied forms. Just to the left of the entrance of the George
House, a turret rises above the roof of the second story. This turret is surmounted by a spire-like roof
that rises with emphatic verticality and almost seems to puncture the sky. Photo courtesy of Michael
Yardley.

Brent Place, built near Plano, (Circa 1876). Many Victorian houses have roofs that emphasize the
vertical direction. Brent Place has three sharply pointed gables that provide its front with an elaborate
profile that seems repeatedly to shoot upward. Although the house is much wider than it is tall, the
gables establish a verticality that is dominant. Photo courtesy of Michael Yardley.
21

Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Winter 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45443/. Accessed December 25, 2014.