Local Architecture in South Texas
Perhaps no other state has had a more colorful history than Texas. After Spanish conquistadors explored what is now South Texas in the early 16th century, it came under the control of France, Spain and then Mexico. It had its own revolution and its own declaration of independence. And before Texas officially became a state, it was its own self-governing republic.
Today, the Lone Star State is fiercely proud of its history and tradition. San Antonio and Austin architectural styles are informed by Texas’ past, but have also been influenced by the regions that bookend the state, referred to as “the South” and “the Southwest.”
San Antonio Style
The city of San Antonio is a wonderful blend of various architectural styles. From large Victorian homes to modern Colonials and Ranch-style homes, there is a wide range of choices when it comes to settling down in Alamo City. Here are some of the more popular ones.
Southern-style homes are specifically designed with the Texas heat in mind, and in a city that often hits triple digits in the summer months, that’s pretty important. These homes often have large, working shutters and a big wraparound porch that’s perfect for sitting and sipping a cool glass of lemonade on a hot July day. Reminiscent of the Antebellum style homes in the Southeast, they often feature large pillars that frame the front of the house and give the façade a grand look. Southern-style homes have often been in the same family for generations
Traditional homes are common in San Antonio as well. Although not originating in Texas, such styles as Ranch, Colonial and Craftsman are well represented throughout the city.
European-style homes mimic the “grand mansion” look of the Old World, with elaborate wood and stone façades and, on the inside, large rooms, marble floors, massive fireplaces and ornate staircases.
Victorian-style homes became quite popular in the 19th century. They feature turrets, steep roofs, projecting windows and asymmetrical design elements that were characteristic of the era. These homes can be quite large and are sometimes painted in bright colors to accentuate their unique features.
San Antonio’s neighbor to the north, Austin, is the state capital and truly one of the most eclectic cities in Texas. The city’s motto — “Keep Austin Weird” — indicates that there is a wide variety of just about everything, and that includes architecture.
Both local history and European influence have done much to create the colorful architectural landscape of Austin. Styles of housing include Texas Country, Texas Regional, Hill Country Contemporary, Spanish Revival, Mediterranean, Tuscan, Tudor, Ranch, Craftsman, Bungalow, Victorian, Queen Anne, Colonial, Shed, Dutch Colonial, Split Level and Art Deco.
Now and Beyond
The architecture of South Texas is a fascinating and complex hybrid of history, tradition, architectural movements, social mores and changes in building methods and materials. While the state’s rich past will no doubt continue to exert an influence on both homes and commercial structures, cutting-edge building techniques and materials will also shape the future of architecture in the Lone Star State.