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Texas State Association of Architects Minutes and Proceedings
civilization. So definite are the characteristics of the styles of different nations, at different periods, that from the mere form and carving of mouldings and decorations of any structure its, age and country can usually be determined by the architect of the present day. Thus we find that whatever variety is to be observed, among the early buildings in our own country in the various part are due chiefly to their different origin. Let us glance at a few of there. Take for instance the [?] of New England and Virigina and the Carolinas. They differ but slightly from each other. They are chiefly the work of English Mechanics, trained in the methods and styles of English buildings of that day. The architecture of St. Augustine and New Orleans reflect truly their continental origin. St. Augustine remains the present day a tour of the old world, with its original Spanish phyisgnomy unchanged. The streets are very narrow. The principal thoroughfare not over twelve to fifteen fixed wide, and the balconies of the old houses project so as to meet overhead. It has the distinction of being the oldest
city in the United States built by Europeans. In New Orleans, also, though to a less remarkable degree. The ancient European character of the town has been preserved. The growth of the modern city has left the old French quarters in many parts unchanged, and its, aspect today in that of a provincial town in the center of France. Take the buildings erected at a later day in New York City and notice the gloom and monotony to be seen on street after street of her brownstone dwellings, built-in the so-called Italian style, narrow fronts, sunken English basements, flat roofs high and narrow winding steps to the principal entrance. They are standing today as evidence to the eye of the costly folly of their. The more recent dwellings which are built in that city by the archtiects of the present day are free rfom the change of monotony. They are evidently built and constructed with a clear view and object for comfrot and present conclusive evidence of the advance made by architecture for domestic comfort and beauty of the buildings of that city. Philadelphia the Quaker City
of brotherly love, truly represented in her early building the character of her people. Sufficient examples of her early architecture remain at the present day to enable us to speak of her past. She presents to us today in her mile after mile of narrow red brick fronts, white marble steps, green blinds on her upper and white panel shutters on her lower story, the painful monotony as regular and quaint as the uniform dress of her quaker citizens, her style of ornament like her people, simple and plain, chaste and reserve in the use of decoration or ornament. Such has been the past style of the architecture of the quaker City. Her recent public buildings, her business blocks and private dwellings have greatly changed in style, and today her recent buildings, public and private present a degree of architectural elegance for beauty in design, harmony in finsih, domestic comfrot and stability, to challenge and capture the eye by the beauty of her buildings. Of Baltimore we can say but little, she has been the monumental city. Her monuments, public and
private buildings have presented no marked or attractive features. She made no effort with her sister cities in the march for style or architectural beauty, her efforts have been almost exclusive confined to domestic comfort and utility rather than for elegance or beauty of design that has been her source in past, but of late the old monumental city has given evidence in her public and private buildings of a better and more refined taste, and has erected some handsome and elegant buildings from chaste and modern designs of architecture and finish that will compare favorably with the best efforts of her sister cities. Washington City, the capital of the nation, was for a long time as slow and backward as her sister city of Baltimore. Washington City remained for many years with little, almost nothing in her architectural design for elegance or beauty. Her unfinished capitol building, crowned by an unsightly modern dome, built of an inferior quality of sandstone, only kept from disintegration by annual coat of paint. The president's
house built of the same material and depending on the same coating of paint for its life and existence the present day, was built from a plan taken from an English house of that day, in no way suitable, then or now, for the purpose for which it was intended. The Navy, State and War Department buildings, finished, unsightly plain two story buildings, totally devoid of all architectural design of beauty; Post Office builiding, patent office building, treasury building, all started, none finished. The best of her private buildings were small indifferent looking, plain two story buildings, devoid of all ornament or finish, - nothing to admire in her architecture.
Such was Washington City, the capital of our nation, within the last forty years. How changed she is today! The city that at that period of time was a disgrace to the nation, so far as architecture of her public and private buildings were concerned, and was called in derision by Europeans "The city of magnificent distances", - she today is recognized by all Europeans who visit her, the handsomest city in the world, and is justly the pride of the American people,
The capital building has been changed and improved by additional winfs, larger is extent than the original building and crowned by a towering dome of iron, from the design of the late president of the American Institute of Architects, Thomas A. Walter, and it stands today a proud monument of his skill, as an able and accomplished architect, something for all to admire. The old War, Navy and State Departments have been torn down, and their places has been erected one of the most beautiful granite buildings on the American continent today, something to be admired, that will last for all time to come. The Patent Office, Post Office and various other public government buildings are all finished and complete, and all present a high degree of national grandure in keeping with the spirit of our free republic. The private buildings and business blocks of that city that have been recently are from the best, most chaste and beautiful designs of American architecture of the present day. All speak plainly of the tasste and ability of the
Washington Architects, I need only glance at one more city to show the wonderful progress and advancement made by the American architect in the last few years. It is not possible for me, in a brief glance, to describe the wonders that have been achieved by American skill in the past few years in that wonderful city. The pride of the West, Chicago. Her buildings stand today noble monuments to genius and skill of her able and accomplished archtects, and may be taken by the European students as models to study the advanced science of Architecture. I cannot close the brief references I have made of the city to which I have referred to without glancing for a moment at our own city of San Antonio, and view the crumbling walls of her massive sturcutres, built mostly, or in part, for religious use under the direction of Spanish and Mexican architects. While we must admit they had the appearance of massive strength, we fail to discover any chaste line of beauty in their design or construction. If we compare the designs of those days with the beautiful designs of
more recent or late construction in that city, we can see at a glance the progress and advances that has been made in the beuaty and science of architevture. And the lone star state of Texas has kept pace with her sister states, so far as the opportunity has been presented to the architects to exhibit their skill and ability. And I will not for one moment hesistate to express my full convition from personal knowledge, that the state would have saved more than $100,000 had the wise salons at Austin employed one of our native Texas architects who presented plans for the new state house. Those gentlemen possessed all the skill and ability, and would have shown their competency to have done all they proposed and with a native pride, he would have seen the building grow under his own eye, as a child of his own creation - solid and secure from the first sone in its foundation to the apex of its dome, no uncertainty of its stability or strength of the building; no necessity of a committee of architects as experts, to allay the fears and apprehension of the people
in regard to the strength and stability of the building.
Justice would have been done to the state and to her people. I do not wish to be understood as casting one single shadow or reflection on the ability of Mr. Meyers, the accomplished architect who designed the building. It was unfortunate for the building and for the state that Mr. Meyers, or some other competent architect, was not present to superintend the erection of the building and prevent its mutilation for the benefit of the contractors and the injury to the building and loss to the state. This loss can clearly be assigned to the act of the commissioners, who, for reasons best known to themselves, or to those who had the appointing power, failed to appoint a competent architect to superintend the construction of the building and to protect the state from loss.
The resources of the mdoern archtiect in his practice of the present day are forcibly illustrated in his work. We cannot fail to see in the new buildings of the present day that there is a lack of restraint or reserve in the erise of the various kinds of materials. Especially
is this shown by the intemperate and lavish display of ornament otuside and inside on most of late. But we must be free to admit that we see a strong tendency in all cases to add all that is possible for domestic comfort first, and second, the beauty of the outline of the building. Thus we see in the present day the low wide entrance steps in place of the high narrow steps. Wide windows, wide and square framed stairways, wide, open fireplaces and handsome wood mantles take the place with their warm and pleasing tint and shades of the cold and cheerless marble that was used in the past. From all that has been said it is evident that the artistic eye and mind of the architect of the present day has reached a variety of styles of which our city and county buildings afford examples in all their variety. We must admit that the architect of the present day has a broader field and better opportunity to educate and prepare himself to meet the increasing demand for skillful and competent work than he has ever had at any time before.
The importance of the