The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 262
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
ment depicted by handsome buildings with modest pretensions. Before
Texas independence, new freedom of religion under the Mexican flag
had allowed manifold Protestant sects to aggressively begin work,
preaching, holding camp meetings, and organizing churches-condi-
tions at times auspicious to the building of houses of worship to serve
Church architecture during the antebellum period (1835-1861) re-
flects certain aspects of the cultural history of Texas. Collectively the
numbers and visual characteristics of structures erected by both Catho-
lics and Protestants indicated something of the status and development
of religion in the Lone Star territory; individually, they reflected the
architectural traditions, economic circumstances, religious ordinances,
and aesthetic tastes of their builders, who generally wished their
churches to remain ethnically segregated. Answering diverse needs for
physical shelter and spiritual fulfillment they varied considerably in
construction and appearance, even within this relatively short time-
frame. At first, primitive construction reflected the fledgling condition
of church organizations as well as the limited means of congregations.
Eventually, however, stylistically distinguished buildings indicated both
the firm establishment of various church organizations and the cultural
origins and values of immigrants.
Earlier, during Spanish colonial times (1691-1821), dedicated ef-
forts of missionaries to Christianize the natives and make them into
loyal Spanish subjects had been reflected in remarkable architectural
achievements in the wilderness. The churches of missions Nuestra
Sefiora de la Purisima Concepci6n de Acufia and San Jose y San Miguel
Aguayo, both erected in the mid-eighteenth century in the vicinity of
San Antonio, were monumental accomplishments known for their
beauty and symbolism. Nearby, in San Antonio de Bexar, the parish
church of Nuestra Sefiora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe, likewise dat-
ing from the mid-eighteenth century, was another noteworthy edifice,
in this instance serving the essential religious needs of Hispanic immi-
grants (fig. 1). Its prominent location attested to the authority of the
The strength of the Church represented by these accomplishments
on the frontier waned at the turn of the nineteenth century. Prepara-
'For a general discussion of early religious history see Rupert Norval Richardson, Texas: The
Lone Star State (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1958), 175-178, and Walter Prescott
Webb, H. Bailey Carroll, and Eldon Stephan Branda, Handbook of Texas (Austin: Texas State
Historical Association, 1952, 1976), II, 500-501 ("Roman Catholic Church in Texas"), I, log
("Baptist Church in Texas"), II, 181 ("Methodist Church in Texas"), II, 407-4o8 ("Presby-
terian Church in Texas").
2For an essay on the Spanish colonial churches, see Willard B. Robinson, Gone From Texas:
Our Lost Architectural Heritage (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1981), 12-15.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/306/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.