Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How Cultures Influenced the Design of Texas Homes

(Photo Credit:

I haven’t always lived in Texas. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Denver, accustomed to small, single-family ranches of wood and brick. Rarely did I see a Spanish roof or adobe, or a house exterior of pure stone. Once I moved to Texas, I noticed the state’s affinity for these types of materials. I assumed Texans’ love for stone and rustic design stemmed from its natural landscape…semi-desert, rock-and-clay, a landscape of many natural tones. But the truth is, home design and architecture in Texas is attributed to its many cultural influences, in addition to its natural landscape.

Rustic-Cowboy, Mexico and South America Influence on Homes (1519-1700s):

Vaqueros came from Mexico and South America after the Spanish established cattle ranches there.  The vaqueros migrated throughout the United States and South America all the way to Argentina. Landowners even taught Native Americans to cattle ranch on horseback. The practice and profession spread to the Southwest and was hugely popular by the turn of the 19th Century. Today, many Texas homes take on a rustic rancher feel, as a throwback to the archaic American cowboy with lasso in-hand. Cabins, rugged wood, animal skins and mounted heads paired with Native American rugs and adobe inspiration is common in many Texas homes.

Spanish-Inspired or Native American-Inspired Homes (1682-1835):
 After all, the first smatterings of architecture in the state were Spanish Roman-Catholic Missions as Spaniards strategically placed them throughout the state to bring Christianity to Native Americans. These missions were responsible for securing Spanish territory in Texas along with forts and pueblos. They became the signature look of Texas.  Today, many homes reflect details of Spanish-style Missions.

 (Photo Credit: Architecture Digest, Lance Armstrong’s Austin Home)

Perhaps Texas homes made out of Adobe and natural stone slabs can, in part, be attributed to its rich culture of Native Americans. At least four Native American cultures existed throughout Texas when the first European settlers laid claim to territories there, including the Coahuiltecan, Karankawan, Trans-Pecos, Jumanos and the Patarabueyes peoples lived in adobe and mud-plastered homes in villages or pueblos. In North Texas, another culture erected structures similar to those seen commonly in New Mexico and Arizona, layering adobe and slabs of stone.

Greek, Colonial, and Victorian Anglo Influence on Homes: (1700s-1900s)

As more and more Europeans settled in Texas, more Catholic and Episcopal churches popped up throughout the state. Tall, angular steeples and high arches brought a gothic-Greek style into Texas architecture.  Anglos began to build public squares and communities, building structures multiple stories high with many European touches, such as French doors and brick-and-stone patterns.

And of course, Texans caught the Victorian-era bug after the civil war until the turn of the 19th century. This explains the many historical buildings established in many Texas towns. Victorians were very detailed and opulent in their architectural styles, preferring asymmetry and an overall balance rather than logic of layout or simplicity. Today, many Texas cities preserve their historical structures as a valuable part of their culture.

(Photo Credit:, Gainesville, TX Victorian Home)

(Photo Credit:, a Colonial-Style Brick-and-Column Home in Houston, TX)

(Photo Credit: Exotic Excess, A $6.2-mil Greek Revival Home in Dallas, TX)

Many homes in Texas are a nod to these influences in its diverse and rich history. New construction often mimics these gorgeous details, sometimes finding a unique amalgam of all these styles. So, when you see one of our homes for sale, look for the hints of cultural influences we’ve just discussed, and see if you notice! For instance, do you see the tiniest touches of Spanish-Colonial and Native American influence in this Garden Ridge home?

(Photo Credit:, 24719 Creek Loop, San Antonio, 78266)

And notice the classical Greek and colonial details of this San Antonio home for sale. The style also combines Spanish and Native American inspiration, along with complimenting the natural landscape of the land with the layers of natural white stone in the yard. Beautiful!

(Photo Credit:, 863 Fawnway, San Antonio, 78260)

(Data and dates taken from the Texas Historical Association, Architecture as well as

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