Spanish colonial houses, which date from about 1600 to 1850, were usually one story with low pitched or flat roofs. They are built of thick masonry walls of adobe brick or rubble stone, covered with stucco. They had multiple external doors and few window openings which usually had grills or bars and heavy shutters controlled from the interior. There was no glass.
There are two traditions of roofs: pitched and flat with a parapet.
Domestic buildings usually have long narrow porches that open onto internal courtyards and function as sheltered passageways between rooms which lacked internal connecting doorways.
The exteriors of these houses are deceiving. They suggest
a fortress mentality. However, they open into gardens and extensive outdoor
Left is the Governor's Palace in San Antonio, Texas, built in the early 1700s.
The main doorway is topped by the keystone above which is carved with the coat of arms of Spains's King Philip V.
Above is the Palace's walled terrace which served as an outdoor livingroom. To the right is the garden with its octagonal fountain which emits a trickle of water, typical if such fountains in arid locations.
The photographs in this section are by Alex McLean, from Great American Houses and their Archtectural Styles, by Virginia and Lee McAlester, 1994