Spanish Revival Architecture of the 20th Century

Informal eclectic style is fanciful and romantic

Spanish Eclectic Style

The romantic Spanish Revival style—or alternately Spanish Eclectic— refers to the architectural style that was built from about 1915 to about 1940. Like Mission Revival, Spanish Revival was influenced by Spanish Colonial architecture of earlier centuries. Unlike its immediate predecessor, Mission, Spanish Revival was more ornate with stylistic detail apparent in both large features and small, such as intricately patterned tilework and wrought iron hardware.

After the Panama-California Exposition in 1915, the Spanish Revival style caught hold. The growth of California and the film industry during the 1920s and 1930s facilitated the dissemination of the Spanish Revival style. Though it is a prominent housing style in the Southwest US as well as Florida and Texas, it is less common in Northern states.

Spanish Revival is an extremely eclectic style. Many Mediterranean touches are combined to create an exotic, but harmonious appearance. Influences include Spanish Baroque, Moorish, and Gothic elements. Tile roofs and stucco exteriors are characteristic with half rounded doors and windows. Elaborate tilework, applied relief ornamentation, and wrought iron grillwork is used to create frames around doorways and windows, and is used widely as decorative accents throughout the house. Towers and columns are often seen as are balustrades, cantelivered balconies, covered porches, and arcaded walkways. Front entrances were often highly ornamented and many were balanced by a commanding triple-arched focal window.

The Monterey style is a later (1925-1955) two-story adaptation of Spanish Revival style combined with features of the Colonial Revival. It's primary distinguishing characteristic is its prominent second-story cantilevered balcony that often runs the length of the front of the house.

General Characteristics

The following are typical features of Spanish Revival houses:

Recommended Reading

Spanish Revival Architecture by S. F. Cook, Tina Skinner

Wallace Neff and the Grand Houses of the Golden State by Diane Kanner

George Washington Smith: An Architect's Scrapbook by Marc Appleton