What is Texas Style Architecture?

What is Texas Style Architecture?
Texas Style Architecture

Historical Texas Style Architecture

Texas Lifestyle has been influenced by historical Texas-style architecture. Texas style has also been influenced by our natural resources of cattle, bison, cotton, timber, and oil over the years and the diverse culture of people that came here seeking those resources.

What is Texas Style Architecture? Texas-style architecture is a combination of our pre-colonial nomadic people, followed by Mexican Spanish influence, then Anglo-Americans and European immigrants with their Greek Revival architectural styles including Tudor, Spanish Colonial, Colonial, Georgian, Italian Renaissance, Mission Revival, Pueblo Revival, Prairie Style, Craftsman Style Bungalows, Art Deco, and Modern styles.

Early Texas Inhabitants

Early Texas inhabitants were nomadic people, so it is not surprising that the first structures were built of animal skins and adobe. This period was known as the Pre-colonial period.

This was followed by the Mexican Spanish period which brought about the building of structures in towns through the mid-1800s based on building practices from Spain.

Mission San Jose

What is Texas Style Architecture?


Get your beautiful Wall Art of Mission San Jose here.

The Mission San Jose established in the year 1720 by Father Antonio Margil sustained over 300 inhabitants. The mission was built on the banks of the San Antonio River. It was one of 5 missions built at that time. It quickly became the largest Texas mission; often referred to as the queen of the missions. The mission was constructed by local inhabitants that lived and worked there until it was completed in the year 1782.

Other notable features of the mission include the stairway to the church bell tower and choir loft. Each of the 25 steps was hand-carved from a single live oak log and constructed without nails or pegs.  The grounds also held a granary supported by flying buttresses, a gristmill, defense walls, and living quarters. The mission was partially restored in the 1930s. Outside the north mission wall, they constructed the gristmill around the year 1794. The San Jose gristmill is the oldest mill in the state of Texas.

Mission San Antonio de Valero

San Antonio was founded on May 1, 1718. A Spanish expedition from Mexico established the Mission San Antonio de Valero as a church to convert Native Americans to Christianity. The original mission was built with blocks of quarry limestone; designed to have towers and a dome roof. Everything but the outer walls of the building collapsed while it was being built. The towers and vaulted roofs were never completed.

The mission was destroyed by a natural disaster in 1724 and moved; the reconstruction of the mission started on May 8, 1744. The date 1758 is carved in the Keystone over the front entrance to the Mission San Antonio de Valero. It was used as a church until 1793 then abandoned. It later became known for the battle of the Alamo when it was used to defend the Texians from the siege of the Mexican army in 1836.

What is Texas Style Architecture?

Trade Center in San Antonio

San Antonio became established as an important trading and commercial center for the southwest in the nineteenth century. Also, during this period San Antonio experienced an influx of German and Anglo settlers. Today the city of San Antonio retains its colorful blend of Mexican and Texan heritage.

Craftsman Style Bungalow

Cultural traditions came to Texas with the Anglo-Americans and European immigrants, bringing with them Greek Revival architectural styles which included log cabins as well as neat wooden, brick, and stone buildings featuring gabled rooflines.

The early twentieth century produced Victorian and other early twentieth-century dwellings including Tudor, Spanish Colonial, Colonial, Georgian, and Italian Renaissance, as well as Mission Revival and Pueblo Revival. Prairie Style was originated by Frank Lloyd Wright and quickly gained popularity in Texas along with Craftsman Style Bungalows (circa Sear Roebuck Catalog).

Modern Architects Established a Clean Minimalist Aesthetic

Mid-Century Modern Home [Source]

Texas-style architecture during this period reflected Art Deco and Modern styles. Thus breaking historical precedents, bringing more economical buildings with function and design as the architectural expression. In the mid-century, modern architects brought a clean minimalist aesthetic with the presence of angular structures (think plain boxes).

Sliding glass doors installed in these modern-style homes brought the outdoors inside. Large windows, open floor plans, and unexpected pops of color were signatures of the mid-century architectural movement bringing with it a unique aesthetic.

Julius H. Ruhl House (c. 1874) at 1428 Sealy Street in East End Historic District. Galveston, Texas

Tract Housing Designed by Contractors

Due to the phenomenal growth of suburban developments in the state’s larger cities, tract housing designed by contractors became a favorite for residential buildings throughout the state in the latter part of the twentieth century and early millennial era influencing Texas-style architecture.

Incorporated into this formula in most recent years are massive roof lines along with rising home prices. These standard builder-grade homes were a popular home choice in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Impressive looking yet little substance requiring more maintenance and upkeep than houses of prior generations.

Historic Preservation Law in the United States

A note on Historic-preservation law in the United States; The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 revolutionized the preservation landscape by establishing a federal/state partnership program for historic preservation projects and funding as well as creating the National Register of Historic Places and a system for review of federal effects on historic sites (commonly known as Section 106).

This Act tasked the National Park Service with coordination between the Federal and State governments on historic preservation issues by forming a program of direct grants and technical assistance from the National Park Service to State Historic Preservation Offices. [Federal Historic Preservation Laws, The Official Compilation of U.S. Cultural Heritage Statutes,2018 Edition]

Stein-Girndt House, Queen Anne Style
Prominent local merchant Edward E. Stein and his wife, Angalla (Heller) Stein, built this house in 1897. In 1906 it was sold to Annie Stein Girndt, and her husband, H.H. Girndt. H.H. who kept bees, harvesting and selling the honey at his downtown store. He is also remembered for his work in folk medicine for animals. Annie kept cows, and chickens, as well as a milk route in town. 
Darrylpearson / CC BY-SA

Historic preservation laws are an important tool in establishing and maintaining our Architectural History. The State of Texas supports historic preservation with the establishment of The Texas Historical Commission (THC) as the state agency for historic preservation.

Texas Industrial Farmhouse Style

Texas Industrial Farmhouse

Today’s Texas rural farmhouse or folk house is, in general, a more modern traditional take on historic farmhouses while still being unpretentious, straightforward, and functional. They are included in urban settings also. They have a distinct look and style about them.  This is perhaps one of my personal favorites which is rather unique to the Texas landscape.

Large functional porches are an integral part of rural living and are an important feature of the Texas Industrial Farmhouse style. Although not currently recognized as an architectural style I think they are perhaps simply misunderstood. Some of this influence comes from a mixture of German and Mexican architectural styles that greatly influenced the English folk houses in the State of Texas. 

Single-residence homes in recent decades have gotten bigger.

Single-residence homes in recent decades have gotten bigger and are full of top-of-the-line finishes. Apartments have gotten smaller but are also available with more high-end finishes than in the 1980s and 1990s. Architectural trends notwithstanding, our latest decade is just upon us, and the tides are changing.

What is Texas Style Architecture?
East Austin, TX revitalization with distinct modern industrial influences.

Sustainable Texas Style Architecture

In the year 2023 and moving forward with the use of recyclable materials, sustainable architecture with a commitment to our environment will dominate building and Texas-style architecture. Industrial and minimalist influences will shape new trends in homebuilding. We are seeing some of this in urban areas such as the Southeast Austin Texas revitalization with their simple rooflines, distinct industrial influence exteriors, and smart home features. Many are masterpieces of function, sustainability, and industrial with utilitarian farmhouse influences while being unpretentious and minimalistic. Trend or a new architectural era? In Texas, it’s a directional no-brainer with the focus being on actual construction practices rather than just aesthetics

What is Texas Style Architecture?
Modern Version of the Dog Trot House

Eclectic Exterior Design

Rural areas tend to be more eclectic in exterior design with rural Texas haciendas ranging from dog trot, ranch style, barn houses, adobe homes, farmhouses, or any of the above-mentioned historical architectural styles.

The most common style is what I refer to as a “real” Texas Farmhouse. A house with a large expansive front porch (possible wrap-around), clean lines, metal roofing, perhaps a breezeway with a garage or an attached garage, and cross fencing. A perfect blend of rustic, industrial, and modern utilitarian simplicity. This type of housing can be found in the city or the country as its popularity is spreading to urban settings as well.

At-home wellness retreat

Wellness Designs in Texas Style Architecture

Renovation is losing popularity as cost-effectiveness is hard to achieve with current housing costs. Given our natural resources and existing housing, we can maintain our Texas-style architecture status quo by implementing the modification of existing structures with good bones for sustainability. Wellness design strategies in your space are available and work for those with existing residential as well as commercial properties looking to up their game.

Wellness designs can include upgrading paint, flooring, as well as cabinetry using non-toxic materials, and smart home touchless faucets that reduce germ spread. In addition, wellness designs can include circadian lighting that changes color to promote sleep at night and energy during the day. Together with whole-house water and air purification systems, your wellness design will support the overall health of your family. Choosing paint and decor utilizing mood boards to set the stage for a more peaceful or energizing interior. Perhaps use one of your favorite cowboy art pieces to define your southern architectural style.

Native and adaptive plants support Monarch butterflies.

Multi-Generational Architecture Features

Multi-generational, multi-functional space design trends incorporating wellness, and reducing anxiety along with stress are at the core of the 2020 – 2030 decade. People are staying home more (think staycation), working from home more often, caring for aging parents, and are also looking for more balance with improved home technologies, modern sustainable materials, and finishes.

The state of Texas is a BIG place Y’all. Texans would benefit from less commuting and more shared transportation with our dwellings being an at-home wellness retreat creating more time for family and the things we love.

Expanding on Texas Style Architecture

Expanding our outdoor terrains and bringing a little bit more nature inside by creating less toxic, environmentally friendly spaces can benefit us all. Create an outdoor space that incorporates native and adaptive plants in your garden to create a habitat for monarchs and other pollinators. Create a peaceful water feature for your space indoors and outdoors.

Implement healthy cooking by upgrading and expanding your cooking surfaces. Grow a vegetable garden. Update your bath to your Zen space and use it regularly. Leave the hustle and bustle behind. Enjoy life in the most productive wellness family-centered spaces ever!

In Conclusion, What is Texas Style Architecture?

Texas-style architecture is a combination of classic and modern styles inspired by the state’s unique history, climate, and culture. This includes elements of Spanish-colonial, Pueblo Revival, Greek revival, and Victorian styles, as well as bold indigenous materials like limestone, adobe bricks, cedar shingles, and stucco.

Find out more about Texini, the leading Texas lifestyle brand that is defined by its celebration of the Lone Star State’s culture, heritage, and values.

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What is Texas Style Architecture?

Texas-style architecture is a combination of our pre-colonial nomadic people, followed by Mexican Spanish influence, then Anglo-Americans and European immigrants with their Greek Revival architectural styles including Tudor, Spanish Colonial, Colonial, Georgian, Italian Renaissance, Mission Revival, Pueblo Revival, Prairie Style, Craftsman Style Bungalows,  Art Deco, and Modern styles.

Kay Keeton, Ed.

Editor in Chief, Kay Keeton - Texas Lifestyle Expert. Kay is a designer turned author, marketer, storyteller, and influencer. A sixth-generation Texan, Kay is both an authority as well as being passionate about sharing her home state of Texas's diverse culture and lifestyle. Kay is a content writer and editor of content for various local and national online publications.

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