Spanish Mission style , is a conglomerate composed of Spanish and Moorish features molded in with the severe and heavy (but always picturesque) lines of the old California mission buildings.
All of this, in turn, is modified and adapted through a practical sense of the luxuries of our most modern civilization.
Thus as it stands it represents today a blending of three widely separated historic events—
- the conquest of Spain by the Moors,
- the subduing and proselyting of the Indians by the old fathers
- and the settling of this Arcadian part of the world by the wealthiest class in America.
It is admitted that the architecture of a country should be the practical out growth of its climatic needs and conditions, and when we visit the land of orange groves, of olives and lemon trees, of bananas and caladiums, of a maximum of sunshine and a minimum of shadow we are glad that there are both architects and clients who have grasped all of its delightful possibilities.
The villas that hang upon the hillsides in France and Italy would find a congenial environment here where mountains alternate with plains, and rugged foot-hills may be softened in outline by a tropical growth; but while these latter have not yet “arrived” the Spanish house with its patio and plastered arch, its porches and oftentimes its roof-gardens, appears at frequent intervals.
The inhabitants have not yet realized that the slope of a terraced descent below the guardianship of a monster mountain, may be most picturesquely broken by a bit of stuccoed wall; that the roses which bloom riotously in the formal garden near the house would show a dashing bit of crimson, or pink, or yellow, if trained to cover such a wall among the trees of a hillside; but they have come to know that the life which may be designated as “half indoors and half out,” is wholly fascinating in this delectable climate; hence the patio.
Among the glossy, dark green foliage of orange trees and great, feathery fronds of sago palm, the pale yellow of the plastered walls, the cream white coloring of the balustrades and arches, together with the dull, red tiling of the roof, make a gratifying color-picture, and the suggestion offered by the patio with its tropical plants completes the charm.
Sometimes the Abyssinian banana waves its gigantic leaves above beds of fern and flowering plants, and sometimes the play of a central fountain sends constant spray on lotus flowers, the lily-of-the- Nile and other aquatic plants. This portion of the United States offers several apparent contradictions, in that it is new, and it is old,
An Inside Spanish Style Patio
It is semi-tropical in its growth and temperate in its climate; for though the thermometer stand at one hundred and ten degrees in the sun one may walk abroad without danger of sun stroke or exhaustion. It unites with the zest and virility of a newly settled and growing country the picturesque ruins of a former period of prosperity, and the relics of a people about whom lingers all the romance suggested by a mixed Spanish, Mexican and Indian nationality.
When a visitor steps from the sunshine down into the cool interior of a Spanish Style Patio – he may well imagine himself in old Spain or Mexico.
Through the closed shutters there comes just enough light to see the tiled floor, the white-washed wall, the large comfortable furnishings with there spread of hand-made lace and the crucifix and candles in a corner.
The wash of a soft tan/yellow color which was used by the Indians and early fathers on the missions with such excellent and lasting effect is adopted generally on the exterior of these houses; partly because it has stood the suns of nearly a hundred years on many of the churches, and more especially because there is no other tone which shows up so well against the turquoise blue of the sky and the lace-like shadows of the pepper trees.
The balustrades in the patios and the supporting pillars of the porches are in the modern Spanish villa style.
And yet these modern palaces are but eight miles away and they acknowledge a picturesque relationship to the old yellow- washed adobe.
Some noticeable features of this architecture are, first, a restraint which replaces redundant ornament with the simplicity of untouched wall, a spreading out over the ground, with walls not too high; the introduction of pillars and arches wherever a fair view or an enticing vista may be viewed.
Cream white, finished with a modern enamel which is warranted to stand the action of the sun and air far better than the cracked and crumbling coats of paint which is all that looks ruinous on many of these ancient edifices.
The pinkish red of the earthen tiles will also hold its own in color for generations to come, and when we compare this substantial, practical and beautiful style of modern architecture with more showy structures, we realize that the owner of this house has built well.