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A Series on Design Styles : Early North America- Southwest Mission

In the last post I talked about Pueblo Style and mentioned it grew into Mission Style. I need to clarify that a bit.

There are two Mission Styles common in the U.S. of A.: Arts & Crafts Mission and Southwest Mission. At some point during the early 1900s the two styles interact, but they never merge into one style- they continuously complement each other throughout history. Here I’ll discuss Southwest Mission.

Architecture and History have something in common: People are always looking “back” and trying to see how things could be better. The U.S.A. was born in that manner: people were unhappy with their history and changed it, hopefully for the better. Architecture is certainly no different...

When Spanish conquistadors came over to Mexico (and the American Southwest), they brought their basic necessities with them, including furniture. A ship can only take on so much weight before it starts to sink, so these first pieces were chests, spindly chairs, tables and maybe a small writing desk. There could have been wrought iron worked into the legs and feet of the chairs, tables and writing desks. They certainly brought their armor and a blacksmith.

Eventually, the Spanish moved a bit further north, encountered the Native Americans and borrowed the Natives’ style of building. They created the Missions throughout the Southwest and California. Being more advanced in some areas over the Natives, the Spanish were able to accent the Pueblo architecture with wrought iron grates on the windows, handles and hinges for wooden doors, even colorful tiles to accent fireplaces, windows, and doors. Wander across the internet over to Mexican Tile and Stone to check out some of the tile designs brought over and used throughout the Southwest. Sadly, much influence from Native American designs would not be seen until the 1900s, though their textiles served important functions for the settlers and were often traded for other goods. 

The oldest adobe building built with Spanish influence is the Sante Fe, New Mexico Governor's Palace, but perhaps the most memorable is the last mission built in San Francisco, with 4'-0" thick walls, that has survived numerous earthquakes and fires -Mission Dolores.