(A note from Anne: this post was authored by my friend and the architect for the refurbishment of Casa Piedra, Stephen B. Chambers, AIA)
Built around 1900, “Casa Piedra” is an excellent example of American Queen Anne Style architecture. Prevalent in the time period of 1880 to 1910, the style was preceded by the Eastlake Style and followed by Richardson Romanesque and Shingle Style. Queen Anne was a popular Victorian Style in the United States, and bears almost no relationship to the original 18th Century British Queen Anne architecture.
The home has the hallmark wrap-around front porch, as well as the following Queen Anne features:
- Asymmetrical façade, with a porch that wraps to the right
- Dominant front-facing gable, cantilevered beyond the plane of the wall below
- Overhanging eaves
- Shaped gables
- A porch covering part or all of the front façade, including the primary entrance area
- A second-story porch or balcony, as seen in the original design photo (c. 1902)
- Pedimented porches, as seen in original design
- Differing wall textures, such as patterned wood shingles shaped into varying designs, including resembling fish scales
- Classical columns
- Bay windows
- Painted balustrades, as seen in original photo
- Front gardens with wooden fences, as seen in original photo
An unusual aspect of this frontier ranch home that makes it different from other historical examples is the poured-in-place concrete structure. Built in a similar form to stone or brick masonry construction, the home has concrete exterior load-bearing walls and what appears to be two interior cast-in-place concrete walls.
On the exterior the walls start with a stone wainscot and then were poured in approximately 24-inch tall lifts around the entire perimeter, leaving a pleasing horizontal banding, that I initially assumed from photographs, was accomplished by striking horizontal lines in a cement plaster wall. The horizontal lines seem to be a nod to the Prairie Style period.
The classical columns around the porch were also poured-in-place concrete and seem to have an intentional rough texture, as it would have been relatively easy to smooth on a cement finish after removing the forms, giving them a slightly “bush hammered” look. Later, this look was a characteristic of the Modernist Brutalism period. The concrete was hand-mixed from many bags of cement, shipped by rail and wagon to the site and has a very consistent color and texture, except in the locations of two modern additions.
This home is, all in all, a wonderful well-preserved example of an elegant turn-of-the-century West Texas Queen Anne style ranch home.