Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988 Page: 15
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ANGLO-AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE IN TEXAS
by Drury B. Alexander
W hen Moses Austin and his son,
Stephen F., started the AngloAmerican
settlements, they initiated
a chain of events that made Texas the
southernmost outpost of the English-oriented
United States, and the Rio Grande
the boundary between Anglo-America
and Latin America. These facts give to
Texas history a significance extending far
beyond its boundaries. Without the victory
of Sam Houston and the little band of
Texans at San Jacinto, most of the western
half of the United States might have been
a second rate power.
An overstatement? Perhaps, but it does
explain the importance of the AngloAmericans
in building the state of Texas.
Theirs was, clearly, the major role in wresting
this territory from Mexico and subsequently
bringing it into the United States.
By 1800, the trans-Appalachian movement
had begun and land-hungry AngloAmericans
were already eyeing the large
expanse of vacant lands across the Mississippi.
Even before Austin began his organized
colonization in 1821 there were
Americans drifting into Texas. With formal
settlement initiated by Austin and
followed by other impresarios, the AngloAmericans
began to come in such numbers
as to dominate the cultural and political
development of the state from this time on.
As with most colonists, the Americans
brought their ideas of house and home and
their building traditions with them. The
great majority of the settlers came from
nearby states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas,
and Tennessee. This westward
drive was moving so quickly across the
country that many of these restless pioneers
who came to Texas had been born in
more distant southern states such as Alabama,
Georgia, North and South Carolina,
and even Kentucky and the Virginias.
As a result of this migration, Texas
became distinctly Southern in its culture
and attitudes. This is not surprising as the
pattern of migration out of the original
eastern states was to move in a generally
westward direction. In moving into Texas
this pattern prevailed to the extent that
North East Texas was settled by people
from Arkansas, Tennessee, and the Carolinas
while those from Mississippi, Alabama
and Georgia are found in mid-East Texas,
The Governor's Mansion in Austin, built by Abner Cook, is one of the best examples of Greek Revival
architecture in Texas.
and Louisiana is represented in South East
Texas. These states represent in turn the
different regions of the South; the Upper
South; the Mid South, and the lower
South, each having its cultural identity.
The cultural differences can be distinguished
by such clues as speech dialects,
building traditions, and agricultural practices.
The difference in the Anglo-American
architecture in North Texas from that
of South Texas is, for example, the difference
in the architecture of Tennessee and
The first structures that pioneers built
were simple log shelters. The American log
cabin, the ideal structure for the frontier as
long as trees were available, was brought
west from Pennsylvania where it seems to
have been introduced by Swedes who
settled in the Delaware valley. So suitable
was this type of construction for a mobile,
pioneer culture that it quickly spread from
Pennsylvania through the Appalachias
and into the South and central states.
The usual practice for the pioneer family,
whether wealthy planter, with many
wagons loaded with household goods and
accompanied by slaves, or the poor farmer
with his family, was immediately to build
one or more log structures to shelter the
family and all who were in their care. Then,
as time and conditions permitted, those
who could afford to do so would build more
comfortable and permanent houses. In
many cases the earlier log houses were
incorporated into the later homes to the
extent that it is difficult to determine
whether there may be a log house under
later clapboard siding.
The Anglo-American colonization of
Texas took place at the time that the Greek
Revival style was becoming popular in the
cities of the Eastern Seaboard. The spread
of the style throughout the Atlantic states
was complete by the 1830s, and the style
was received with great enthusiasm in the
South. This appreciation in the South was
due in part to the suitability of the style to
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988, periodical, Summer 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45434/m1/15/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.