Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988 Page: 16
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the climate. The temple portico or encircling
gallery sheltered the walls of the
house from the sun, and the central hall
and stairwell provided the maximum ventilation.
The warm humid climate of much
of the South was made more bearable by
these features plus high ceilings, tall windows
and louvered shutters which provided
ventilation with privacy.
It was this style which the AngloAmerican
brought to Texas. The men responsible
for the best examples we have
today were not architects in today's professional
meaning, but were master builders.
They had received training in their craft as
apprentices to builders before arriving in
Texas. The planning of a house was quite
simple as there was rarely any deviation
from the symmetrical, central hall plan.
The professional builder relied on his
builder's handbooks which provided all the
information he required. In these useful
manuals there were examples of the classic
order, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian with
their proportions carefully set out, and
there were stairs and mantel designs and all
the necessary decorative trim. In addition
they contained information on construction
techniques and building materials.
The two most commonly used authors were
Asher Benjamin and Minard Lafever.
Most outstanding of the builders who
brought the Greek Revival to Texas were
Augustus Phelps, who built the Stephen
W. Blount House in San Augustine, and
Abner Cook, who built "Woodlawn," the
Pease Mansion, in Austin.
In plan the Greek Revival house followed
the same pattern as the Federal and
Georgian styles that preceded it-a central
hall with an equal number of rooms symmetrically
arranged on either side. Symmetry
was the first principle of all classic
revival styles, and it was even more rigidly
adhered to in the Greek Revival. The
entrance is centered on the front of the
building, and an equal number of windows
are aligned on each side of the door.
The chief variable in the Greek Revival
house was in the treatment of the porch, a
distinction which carries all the way back
to Greek temples and their classification as
prostyle or peripteral depending on
whether the columns are only across the
front or carry around all four sides. In the
Greek Revival house, the porch may be
either a small stoop attached to the front of
the house and centered on the door, a
colonnaded porch which carries all the way
across the front, or a colonnaded gallery
which carries across the front and then
around the sides as well, sometimes completing
the encirclement by extending
across the back.
The completely encircling porch
(peripteral) is most frequently found in the
deep south, especially in the lower Mississippi
Valley in Louisiana. This is due to the
climate and to the hipped-roof galleried
house type brought from the West Indies.
The State Capitol Building, Austin.
The columnar porch which extended
all across the front of the house with classic
columns-usually Doric or Ionic-carried
up the full height of the house and topped
by an entablature and sometimes a pediment
is more typical of the middle SouthTennessee,
Mississippi, Northern Alabama,
It was Palladio who introduced in his
villas the idea of making a classic temple
portico the central element of a residential
design. In this country Thomas Jefferson,
an admirer of Palladio, popularized the
temple portico as a central porch framing
the entrance to the house as can be seen in
Monticello. This form, the central portico
of which does not extend all the way across
the facade but is centered about the door
and on two story houses is a double porch,
was most often used in the Upper South.
The earliest examples of this in Texas are
the raised cottages-houses with full basements
at ground level, the principal floor
above reached by a flight of stairs which
sweeps up to the encircling gallery.
While no single type was exclusive to
any one area, their distribution in Texas
generally follows the regional pattern from
which the settlers came. In North Texas
the portico or porch centered on the door
is most common, in southeast Texas one
sees the Louisiana type of encircling gallery
and the raised cottages.
Ernest Connally wrote in his article,
"Architecture at the End of the South:
Central Texas," that by the outbreak of the
Civil War the westward movement had
reached the line which divides Texas down
the center, the Balcones Fault. The Southern
cotton culture had extended from the
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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/m1/16/: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.