Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988 Page: 17
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eastern boundary over to the geological
boundary between the East Texas prairie
and the West Texas high plains. The western
edge of the cotton culture was marked
by the cities along this line: Dallas, Waco,
Austin, and San Antonio. In these cities
the last and some of the finest Greek Revival
houses were built in the 1850s. The
Governor's Mansion in Austin, built by
Abner Cook, is one of the state's finest
The Civil War effectively ended the
clearly defined ethnic style influence in
Texas architecture although certain vernacular
building traditions could still be
distinguished in some of the smaller or
more isolated communities. With the influx
of the railroads and the consequent
revolution in communication and trade
with all sections of the country, popular
styles were now national in scope rather
than regional. The great courthouse building
spree and the building of the capitol in
the 1880s brought a number of professional
architects to Texas in search of the
commissions for these important public
This nationalizing, or even internationalizing,
of the architecture can best be
illustrated by mentioning three late nineteenth
century San Antonio architects.
James Wahrenberger was born in San
Antonio, the son of a prominent German
family, and was sent to Germany for his
architectural education. Alfred Giles was
an Englishman who received his training
in England before coming to San Antonio
to establish his professional career. Finally,
James Riely Gordon, a native of Virginia,
was brought to San Antonio by his parents
as a young boy. After he received his professional
training in Washington, D.C. in the
office of the Supervising Architect of the
Treasury, he returned to San Antonio in
1887 and subsequently designed a number
of Texas' finest courthouses. These men
and others such as Nicholas Clayton of
Galveston, J. N. Preston of Austin, F. E.
Ruffini, and Jacob Larmour, to name a few,
brought the current architectural styles to
Texas, thus resolving the ethnic divisions
which had prevailed until the Civil War.
[This article is reprinted with permission from
the Texas Society of Architects and Texas
Architect magazine. -Ed.]
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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/m1/17/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.