|Goodhue's temporary Exposition buildings of 1915 were so|
popular that they were eventually rebuilt in permanent
materials. They remain a beloved feature of San Diego's
Balboa Park to this day. (Image courtesy of TripSavvy)
In 1915, visitors to the Panama-California exhibition in San Diego’s Balboa Park were dazzled by architect Bertram Goodhue’s Spanish Baroque fair buildings. His romantic stucco confections, with their ranges of shady arcades, tiled fountains, and graceful wrought-iron ornament, were a smash hit with fairgoers long used to the to the fussy artifice of the Victorian era. And while the fair buildings were temporary, their effect was permanent: They ignited a love affair with Spanish Revival architecture—first in California, and later across the nation—that continues to this day.
|Bertram Goodhue, architect.|
In California, the early generation of Hollywood movie stars were among the first to fall for the Spanish Revival; in Florida it was a class of moneyed industrialists and financial barons. Throughout the 1920s, they commissioned huge haciendas whose construction required legions of craftsman to produce roof tiles, ironwork, and hewn and carved beams.
|Mar-a-Lago, the monumental 1927|
Spanish Revival mansion built for
cereal heiress Marjorie Post—
now a National Historic Landmark,
and famous in its own right long before
You-Know-Who moved in.
Those half-round clay roof tiles, whose shape originally came from the raw clay being formed over the tilemaker's thigh, are the most obvious hallmark of Spanish Revival homes, and are found not merely on roofs, but also on chimney tops. Others traits include rough stucco walls imitating adobe, and round arches used in porches and windows. And of course, there’s that beloved detail of Spanish Revival architects—bits of clay pipe used as attic vents. More elaborate houses may also feature clay tile porch pavers, hand-painted ceramic tile accents, and occasionally, lovely little tiled fountains a la Goodhue’s Exhibition.
|Clay tile floors, dark woodwork, arches, and plenty of|
doors to the garden characterize the best
Spannish Revival interiors.
|Spanish Revival homes featured a close communion with|
the outdoors that remains unmatched by other home styles
to this day. (Image courtesy of Homedit)
Shortcomings? Only a few worth mentioning. In order to emulate the look of adobe construction, Spanish Revival windows tend to be on the smallish side, sometimes resulting in unusually dark interiors. The dark-stained floors and woodwork accentuate the effect. But please, oh please—don’t whip out the ol’ paint brush to lighten things up per the usual design magazine' advice—these shadowy interiors are an integral part of the Spanish Revival style.