Spanish Colonial Revival architecture: Wikis


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A private home built in the style.
11 Bonita, exemplary of the style.

The Spanish Colonial Revival was a United States architectural movement that came about in the early 20th century, starting in California and Florida as a regional expression related to both history and environment. The Spanish Colonial Revival Style was also influenced by the opening of the Panama Canal and the overwhelming success of the novel Ramona. Based on the Spanish Colonial architecture that dominated in the early Spanish colonies of both North and South America, Spanish Colonial Revival updated these forms for a new century.

Early champions of the Spanish Colonial Revival include Orlando, Florida architect Frederick H. Trimble whose Farmer's Bank in Vero Beach predates the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 in San Diego. The San Diego Fair has been credited with drawing national attention to the aesthetic potential of this style.

The movement enjoyed its greatest popularity between 1915 and 1931 and was most often exhibited in single-level detached houses.



The antecedents of the Spanish Colonial Revival Style can be traced to three northeastern architects, New Yorkers John Carrère and Thomas Hastings of Carrère and Hastings and Bostonian Franklin W. Smith. These three designed grand, elaborately detailed hotels in the Spanish Colonial idiom for St. Augustine, Florida in the 1880s. With the advent of the Ponce de León Hotel (Carrère and Hastings, 1882), the Alcazar Hotel (Carrère and Hastings, 1887) and the Casa Monica Hotel (later Hotel Cordova) (Franklin W. Smith, 1888) thousands of winter visitors to the Sunshine State began to experience the charm and romance of Spanish Colonial architecture.

These three hotels were influenced not only by the centuries old buildings remaining from the Spanish rule in St. Augustine but also by The Old City House, constructed in 1873 and still standing, an excellent example of early Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

The possibilities of the Spanish Colonial Revival Style were brought to the attention of architects attending late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries international expositions. For example, California's Spanish-style stucco mission-meets-mansion at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago[1], along with the Electric Tower of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1900[2] suggested the potential of Spanish Colonial Revival, although both were admixtures with porticoes, pediments and colonnades that were clearly influenced by Beaux Arts classicism as well.

By the early years of the 1910s, adventurous architects in Florida had begun to make Spanish Colonial Revival their own. Frederick H. Trimble’s Farmer’s Bank in Vero Beach, completed in 1914, is a fully mature early example of the style. The city of St. Cloud, Florida, espoused the style both for homes and commercial structures and has a fine collection of subtle stucco buildings reminiscent of old Mexico. Many of these were designed by architecture partners Ida Annah Ryan and Isabel Roberts.

Design elements

Spanish Colonial Revival architecture shares many elements with the very closely-related Mission Revival and Pueblo styles of the West and Southwest, and is strongly informed by the same Arts and Crafts Movement that was behind those architectural styles. Characterized by a combination of detail from several eras of Spanish and Mexican architecture, the style is marked by the prodigious use of smooth plaster (stucco) wall and chimney finishes, low-pitched clay tile, shed, or flat roofs, and terracotta or cast concrete ornaments. Other characteristics typically include small porches or balconies, Roman or semi-circular arcades and fenestration, wood casement or tall, double–hung windows, canvas awnings, and decorative iron trim.

Notable architects

Probably the most famous proponents of the style in California was George Washington Smith who practiced during the 1920s and 30s. Perhaps his most famous house is the Steedman House in Montecito, now a museum called the Casa del Herrero. Also notable were John Byers, Wallace Neff, Reginald Johnson, Elmer Grey, and William Johnson.[3]

In Florida, the names included Marion Wyeth, Robert Weed, Addison Mizner, and Maurice Fatio.[3]

Structural form

List of example structures


See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Mediterranean Domestic Architecture in the United States Newcomb, Appleton
  • Weitze, K. (1984). California's Mission Revival. Hennessy & Ingalls, Inc., Los Angeles, CA. ISBN 0-912158-89-1.  
  • Nolan, David, The Houses of St. Augustine. Sarasota, Pineapple Press, 1995.


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