Alfred Giles, Architect

Alfred Giles emigrated to America in the 1870s after studying architecture in his native England.  Moving to San Antonio from New York in 1875, he became one of the most prolific and important architects in San Antonio.  In 1875 he designed the stunning Second Empire Steves Homestead in the King William District, which is open daily for tours.

steves houseS

Nice.  How about a little detail of the rope molding on the windows?

Steves rope molding2.jpg

There you go – great ashlar limestone too!

Steves front porchGiles built his own home on the same street, although decidedly more modest.

giles83 306-8 KWsThe Steves Homestead was the first of several commissions in the tony King William district.  Giles also completed the Groos and Sartor houses here.

k william biggieSGroos House, built 1880.

He had an extensive career designing courthouses for a number of Texas counties in the popular eclectic styles of the last quarter of the 19th century.  One of my favorites of course is the one in Marfa, show below.

marfa to cthsSGiles was the key architect at Fort Sam Houston in the 1880s, which also followed late 19th century eclectic stylings designed for the local climate.  This includes the Officer’s Quarters and Stillwell House.

Fort Sam officers c

Stilwell main facade

Just outside Fort Sam, which has 900 buildings on the National Register, is the massive Romanesque “Lambermount” that Giles designed for Edwin Terrell in 1894.

Longermont side.jpg

Alfred Giles also contributed several significant downtown commercial buildings during his era, with the most prominent survivor being the stunning Crockett Block facing the Alamo.  Actually 4 connected limestone buildings with a common cornice, the block was completed in 1882, the year before the Alamo became the first landmark saved by a public entity west of the Mississippi.

Crocket facade detail.jpg

This southernmost building survived intact along with the northernmost.  The middle two had false fronts added in the 1950s but were brought back in 1980.

shop row facing alamo.jpg

They excavated to the south in 1980 and found a piece of the old Mission wall, which can be seen through a “window”.  They recently excavated again and found it again.

maverick-bldg

This little gem is right around the corner from Alamo Plaza and is the Albert Maverick Building, designed by Alfred Giles just before the Crockett Block.  It was even more heavily altered and nearly unrecognizable in 1979 when the San Antonio Conservation Society stepped in to conserve and restore it as the oldest commercial building in the downtown.  Giles designed a number of residential and commercial buildings for the Maverick family over the years.

mitchell oge57-82 209 wshgtnS.jpg

Giles expanded an 1857 Greek Revival house for Louis Oge in King William in the same year he was building the Crockett Block, 1882.  I will be adding more of Giles works to this blog in the coming weeks – as the 19th century turned into the 20th, Giles like other architects adopted the more restrained styling of Craftsman houses and even a little Collegiate Gothic church completed in 1918, his penultimate commission.  It is just around the corner from me!

Presa Carolina church.jpg

Dunno what they did with windows and doors tho….

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One Response to “Alfred Giles, Architect”

  1. Latest news on Alamo Plaza | Time Tells Says:

    […] parking garage, I guess).  Indeed, the team proposes turning the 1882 Crockett Block (see my blog on architect Alfred Giles) into a new high-tech Alamo museum, a double win for preservationists, […]

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