The Old University Building in Historic Nacogdoches
Nacogdoches University, chartered by the Republic of Texas in 1845,
was the first nonsectarian university established in the state.
Constructed during the 1850's in the Washington Square District
on the design of a classical Greek temple, this building at one time
served as a Masonic Lodge, a Louisiana college,
and a Confederate hospital during the American Civil War.
It became part of the Nacogdoches school system in 1904
and is now operated by the Women's Federation of Clubs as a museum.
The Greek Revival expressed in the Old University Building was
a trend that developed between 1830 and 1860 as America's first national style
of architecture, taking its impetus from broken ties to English tradition after the
War of 1812 and the occurrence of the Greek War of Independence in 1821 which
promoted the ideals of self-rule and democracy relevant to the emerging Republic.
Thomas Jefferson's designs for the Richmond, Virginia capitol building and the
University of Virginia, (1785-1788) introduced Roman classical architecture into
the United States. Augustus Phelps, trained in the Philadelphia school of Greek Revival,
introduced this style into Texas in 1838 when he contracted to build five homes in San Augustine.13
Characteristics of the Greek Revival style in the Old University Building are:
a symmetrical two story rectangular structure with gable roof, tall windows,
high ceiling, colonnaded veranda and a portico on the front of the building.
With unadorned capitals and pediment and wide unfluted columns the
Old University Building reflects the Doric order of Greek architecture.
The narrow well-proportioned chimneys and the interior curvilinear staircase
are attributes of an earlier period of American architecture.
(Next Picture: Statue of the poet Karle Wilson Baker)