Heritage, Summer 2004 Page: 8
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The Ruffini others in Texas
By Linda C. Henderson
Nineteenth-century Texas was a dynamic
place of change, optimism, and new beginnings
during which time architects and
builders left their marks on the landscape,
from the humblest neighborhoods to the
grandest courthouses. Countless buildings
have been razed, but those that remain can
teach us lessons today about the lasting
impact of well-crafted designs.
Since the Texas Historical Commission began the Texas
Historic Courthouse Preservation Program in 1999, more than 60
counties have received funds to restore and plan for the preservation
of their buildings. With preservationists' eyes turned
toward courthouses, the lives of architects and builders have also
come to light. The men who designed Texas' early courts buildings
had varied backgrounds, and many had prolific careers in
addition to their public works. The more than 225 extant historic
courthouses in the state represent the works of just a few dozen
designers, and only several of these have been studied in depth.
In 1993, however, Texas Tech University doctoral student
Susan Jean Dickey completed her dissertation on Oscar and
Frederick Ernst Ruffini. In the comprehensive document, Dickey
examines changes within the
architecture profession as well
as the lives and works of the
Ruffinis. Most of the brothers'
buildings have long since been
replaced, but their impact on
the changing field of architecture
and on the built environments
in Austin and San
Angelo is undeniable. In addition to their courthouse work, Ernst
and Oscar designed numerous public, commercial, and residential
structures, including the University of Texas' Old Main Building,
through which thousands of students once walked.
The story of the two brothers relates directly to the history of
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HERITAGE / SUMMER 2004
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2004, periodical, Summer 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45373/m1/8/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.