Contingent Contexts in the German Country Schools of Gillespie County, Texas

Jun 14, 2017

This paper investigates the origins and the cultural development of the 19th century German country schools of Gillespie County, Texas focusing on three selected school sites which have been preserved and maintained to the present day by the descendants of the original builders and students.

This study begins with an overview of rural education in Gillespie County followed by the analysis of three surviving schools evidenced by archival materials, oral histories, and on-site field documentation. The central thesis of this paper is that the architectural qualities, functional purposes, and building technologies found in the rural schools of Gillespie County represent a contextual cultural response to social and physical needs and delineates a syncretic method for merging embedded social traditions from the German source regions of the settlers with the cultural and environmental conditions of the Texas Hill Country region. The sustainability of the schools as historical sites and active community centers is highly dependent upon the physical support of the living descendants of the families who attended the schools, and as their numbers diminish the future of the schools is uncertain.

keywords: Material Culture, Vernacular Building, Historic Preservation, Cultural Landscapes

Ben K. Shacklette, AIA (Texas Tech University)
Presented at: 
ARCC 2017 Conference – Architecture of Complexity (Salt Lake City, UT)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC)
University of Utah

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