The influence of local and imported factors on the design and construction of the Spanish missions in San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas, is home to several eighteenth-century Spanish Franciscan missions,
which represent some of the best examples of Spanish colonial mission architecture in
the United States and which together comprise the city's historic Chain of Missions.
This study traces the history of four of these missions: Mission Nuestra Senora de la Purismima Concepcion de Acuna, Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo, Mission
San Juan Capistrano, and Mission San Francisco de la Espada.
Founded by Franciscan friars, who traveled from Spain to Mexico and ultimately
to Texas to christianize native populations of the Americas, and built by craftsmen
transplanted from Mexico, the missions are an amalgam of diverse cultures and decades
of evolving architectural styles. This study examines the cultural, religious, and
environmental factors that influenced the design and construction of the original mission
structures. Specifically, it analyzes the vernacular architecture of eighteenth-century
Spain and Mexico, as well as the traditions of local Native American groups of the period, and studies the effect of these cultures and San Antonio's environmental
conditions on the resulting vernacular construction of the San Antonio missions.
Each of the four missions in this study is examined within the context of three
main factors: (a) the unique combination of broad cultural factors?both local and
imported-that influenced the architectural forms of the missions; (b) the religious
prescriptions of three cultural groups and their effect on the structure of the missions;
and (c) the impact of the specific environmental conditions of the San Antonio area. The
goal of this study was to identify the multiple forces that contributed to the creation of a
vernacular architectural form-Spanish mission architecture-in Texas. The findings
suggest that the design and construction of the San Antonio Missions were most strongly
influenced by Mexican religious factors, followed by Spanish cultural factors.
Environmental conditions of the area were not highly influential.
Advisor:Geva, Anat; Alexander, John; Grider, Sylvia
School:Texas A&M University
School Location:USA - Texas
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:san antonio missions texas franciscans architecture spanish
Date of Publication:12/01/2005