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Texas Architecture: A Visual History
What Makes Texas Architecture Texan?

Modern transportation and technology have given architects the ability to design and build anything, anywhere; a skyscraper in New York City may look very similar to one in Los Angeles or Dallas. This wasn’t always the case. Early settlers and indigenous groups had to contend with differences in geography, climate, available materials and building traditions, all of which determined the design of buildings in a specific region.

In Texas, the sheer size of the state and its variations in settlement patterns, geography and climate resulted in an eclectic range of architectural styles. Over the years, people from many different cultures inhabited the land, including indigenous Native Americans, Spanish and Mexican explorers, and Anglo-American and European settlers. Geography ranging from the hot and humid east Texas timberlands to the dry and treeless plains of west Texas significantly affected building design. In addition, limited modes of transportation required the use of local materials, ranging from wood, clay and mud to limestone and sand. These restrictions resulted in an architecture often characterized more by function than aesthetics.

The first structures in Texas were simple dwellings built by Native Americans with such materials as animal hide and adobe. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Spanish explorers established presidios, missions and towns based on building and planning traditions from Spain (Meinig 1969, 24). Beginning in the 19th century, Anglo-American settlers popularized the log cabin and were soon followed by European groups, including German, Alsatian, Polish, Norwegian and Czech settlers, who brought with them various building techniques from their homelands.

Timeline of Texas ArchitectureSpanish Colonial / MexicanRepublic/AntebellumVictorianEarly 20th CenturyModern
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