San Antonio Conservation Society

Get Involved

Volunteer, contribute, or add your voice to save the heritage of San Antonio.

Research

Research the history of your house, your neighborhood, or treasured San Antonio landmarks!

Discover

Explore historic farm & ranch sites in Bexar and adjacent Texas counties.

Protect

Tell State officials: keep Alamo Plaza open and intact - we deserve a better deal!

ADVOCACY

The Society advocates preserving the architectural, natural and cultural heritage of San Antonio.

previous arrowprevious arrow
next arrownext arrow
Slider

VALUE OF OUR WORK

Preservation Programs
Education/Awareness
News and Events
previous arrow
next arrow
PlayPause
Slider

The U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, designed by Ralph Cameron in association with notable Beaux-Arts architect Paul Cret, was completed in 1937 as one of the seminal WPA projects in San Antonio. Divided into a tripartite facade, the rusticated bases grounds the vertically organized shaft containing five inset ionic columns that continue to the attic level in the form of pilasters framed by quatrefoil windows. While subtle, the incorporation of the quatrefoil windows signifies a departure from the strict neoclassicism associated with earlier Federal buildings. Cameron and Cret pulled the South facing façade back from Houston St., simultaneously conceding Plaza dominance to the Alamo while further defining the space itself. Inside, the WPA commissioned murals to cover the walls, most notably one painted by Howard Cook that depicts the history of the area.

The Rayburn Office Building, designed by Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson (H2L2 - the successor firm to Cret) and completed in 1965, shares many similarities with the Post Office and Courthouse designed three decades earlier. Beginning in the 1920s, Cret began to design buildings that took the formal massing of neoclassicism with the lack of applied ornament from modernism, creating a spare neoclassical style that would become popular with the Federal government, and controversially with Albert Speer, who served as the lead architect for the Nazis.

The Rayburn Building saw the return of some of the classical ornament along with National imagery. Both being neoclassical buildings for the federal government, the most notable difference besides scale is the type of ornament on the Post Office and Courthouse aids in softening the façade, allowing the Alamo to take precedent, but with such monumental competition in Washington D.C., there was no such need in the Rayburn Building, which includes a Greek temple inspired main entrance. Both buildings and Paul Cret's work overall represents the potential flexibility in which classical principles can be applied in architecture.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

The First National Bank, designed by Cyrus Eidlitz in 1886 for George W. Brackenridge, signaled a local shift in the use of historical ornament in relation to place and precedent. Featuring Moorish inspired crenulations, an onion-domed cupola as well as Islamic arches along the second level and one on the first, the effort to historicize took an experimental shift. While referencing the influences on local Spanish colonial architecture, Eidlitz reconfigured these recognizable elements without completely adhering to a specific historical composition. The nearby missions share a similar sense of stylistic flexibility in that their builders were precluded from or unable to adhere to the canon of classicism that bound continental and colonial architects in urban areas.
All of the missions exemplify this loose adherence to a specific style, but the Chapel of Mission Espada demonstrates the Moorish influence on Spanish colonial architecture from which Eidlitz drew. The main portal of the chapel is framed by a Moorish-esc arch that likely served as the inspiration behind Eidlitz’s liberal use of a similar arch in his design for Brackenridge. Additionally, he employed an abstracted version of the chapel’s crenellations in his design for the bank.
Eidlitz showed a strong interest in placing his buildings within the stylistic context of its location, era, and program. He designed banks, train stations and commercial facilities that reflected his distinct stylistic perspective without losing a sense of familiarity. His neoclassical banks in New York recalled the facades of Wall Street and his Chicago train station adhered to the Romanesque revival style popular at the time. While he took a risk with the Moorish influences from Mission Espada, the building’s rusticated limestone ashlar masonry anchor the First National Bank solidly in the architectural vocabulary late 19th century Central Texas.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Become A Member
Volunteer
Donate

This image is copyrighted.

X