Texas Heritage, Winter 1985

The George House, which was built
in Plano in 1900, is a fairly typical
example of the Queen Anne Style in
Texas. Just to the left of the entrance, 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. The asymmetrical
positioning of the turret is repeated
with almost every other part of the
building. A porch wraps around from
the front of the house to the left side,
whereas a wing of the house projects
forward from the front on the right.
Another wing projects out from the
rear of the left side of the house, and
the aforementioned porch breaks forward
to wrap around this additional
wing. The various parts of the house
have separate steeply pitched roofs.
The second story windows are positioned
in gables, one of which faces
front, two face left, one faces right,
one faces to the rear, and none are on
axis. The ensemble is a collection of
parts that vary in shape, in dimen

sions, and in direction. The result
is a fascinating and picturesque configuration
of forms. The emphatic
breaking of the symmetry allows freer
planning in the distribution of the interior
rooms, which no longer have to fit
into the straight jacket of classical
symmetry.
There is another style that frequently
appeared in Texas during the late nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries,
but, in contrast to the other styles
of the Victorian era, this one is not
derived from medieval prototypes. It
is the Second Empire Style, which was
originally conceived in France to glorify
the rule of the Emperor Napoleon
III. In contrast to the Italian Villa Style
and the Queen Anne Style, the Second
Empire Style is frequently symmetrical.
The most notable French characteristic
is the presence of the mansard
roof with its double slope in profile.
Whereas the lower slope of the roof is
almost vertical, the upper slope is
nearly horizontal and often not visible.

The lower slope of the roof is usually
penetrated by dormer windows, which
are often embellished with elaborate
pediments. A typical example of the
Second Empire Style is the Steves
House, which was built in San Antonio
in 1874.
The final style to be considered is one
that was dominant during the late nineteenth
century and early twentieth century,
but which is often not identified
with the Victorian era because in its
pure form it does not have the lavish
decoration and complexities of design
that are usually associated with Victorian
architecture. This atypical Victorian
style is the Romanesque Revival
or Neo-Romanesque, which was immensely
popular throughout the United
States during the last two decades of
the nineteenth century and the first
decade of the twentieth century. The
foremost architect of the Romanesque
Revival was H.H. Richardson of Massachusetts,
who was inspired by medieval
buildings of the eleventh and

The Edward Steves House, San Antonio, (Circa 1876). A Victorian house with a mansard roof and Italianate detail holds much of its interior furnishings
intact. The house was passed from the Steves family into the hands of the San Antonio Conservation Society, which maintains it as a museum.
courtesy of Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Photographer, Todd Webb.

27

Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Winter 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45443/. Accessed September 18, 2014.