Texas Heritage, Winter 1985

open central corridor of the dog-trot
house has become an enclosed entry
hall that still sparates the rooms on the
left from those on the right.
Although the Neill-Cochran House is
typical of the Greek Revival in Texas,
the style was also used in buildings
that appear somewhat different. Many
Greek Revival houses have only one
story. The portico can be either the full
width of the house or it can be much
more narrow than the building, but it
was almost invariably symmetrical
about the center axis of the structure.
A narrow portico might have a crowning
pediment, which was another
feature borrowed from ancient Greek
temples. The columns of the portico
were sometimes Ionic instead of Doric.
The Ionic Order, as devised by the ancient
Greeks, was more slender and
graceful than the Doric Order. The
Ionic Order was also more ornate with
capitals shaped in the form of volutes.
Sometimes the columns of a portico of
a Greek Revival house were arranged
in two superimposed rows with the upper
row rising from the level of a balcony.
Regardless of which of the variations
that might be employed for a
Greek Revival house, there was generally
a sense of order, formality, serenity,
and dignity.
After the Civil War, the Greek Revival
gradually ceased to be the prevailing
architectural style in Texas and
elsewhere in America. The transition
to the next dominant style did not occur
immediately. Many buildings constructed
in Texas in the 1860s and
1870s combine Greek Revival characteristics
with features of the new styles
that eventually replaced the Greek Revival.
These new styles, which became
prevalent during the last three decades
of the nineteenth century, can be collectively
labeled as Victorian. Although
the name of Queen Victoria is
practically synonymous with life and
culture during the second half of the
nineteenth century on both sides of the
Atlantic, it is still an oversimplification
to describe all architecture in Texas

Ellis County Courthouse, Waxahachie, (Circa 1894-1896). This was among the most controversial
Texas courthouses of the nineteenth century. Typical of J. Riely Gordon's designs, this building was
enhanced by a variety of stone work. The walls of pink granite and Pecos red sandstone have a base
of grey granite. Voussoirs and stringcourses were sandstone, while polished columns were of both
sandstone and granite. The porch floors were paved with marble tiles. Photo courtesy of Amon
Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Photographer, Todd Webb.

from the 1860s through the 1890s as
Victorian because there were several
clearly identifiable styles during this
period.
Whereas Greek Revival architects emulated
classical antiquity in an effort to
achieve a civilized character of regularity,
solemnity, and monumentality,
Victorian architects were instead generally
inspired by medieval prototypes
in an attempt to display an attainment
of prosperity and sophistication. But
the particular medieval prototypes that
Victorian architects selected varied,
and the various medieval prototypes
were combined with various other
styles of the past. As a result, the architecture
of the Victorian era consists
of several distinctly different eclectic
combinations of historic styles.
A fairly common type of Victorian design
in Texas combines Gothic elements
with classical characteristics.
The Sturgis House was built in Waco in
1887 with an overall classical sym

metry and block-like form but with
numerous details that have a Gothic
-haracter. The brick house has a twostory
wooden porch, and it is in the
details of this porch where the Gothic
elements are most evident. Because
the Gothic aspects are wooden, the
style is sometimes labeled as Carpenter
Gothic. The porch of the Sturgis
House is symmetrical with regularly
spaced vertical supports carrying
the horizontal members, but the porch
is not a Greek Revival portico like that
of the Neill-Cochran House. The vertical
supports are not simple columns
with Greek proportions and Greek
capitals. Instead, the vertical supports
are attenuated posts with complicated
profiles. The posts appear to consist of
numerous parts that vary in shapes that
include cylinders, spheres, and several
other forms. Instead of monumental,
geometric columns, the posts are a
proliferation of small-scale elements.
The posts are desubstantiated by their
actual attenuation and also by their
fragmentation into tiny parts. The
25

Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Winter 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45443/. Accessed December 19, 2014.