Wanting to make a statement of their own on the West Coast, architects and builders eschewed the imported East Coast home styles to reinvent the historic Spanish Colonial and mission heritage of California.
Drawing from the mission heritage of California through the Spanish Colonial and Southwest styles, we see homes with white stucco walls, red clay roofs and bell towers, from which the Mission Revival style was borne.
Shapes and lines echo those of the older missions, where vast flat stucco surfaces are interrupted by deep windows and doors.
Historically, the exteriors weren’t overly adorned, rather utilizing the natural shadows and light patterns created from the roof overhangs, gables and eaves.
Originating in California, the Mission Revival architecture style pays homage to the Hispanic history and heritage of the Golden State. Used by hotels and train depots originally, the style became popular amongst residential developers as a way to complement the vast landscapes and invoke a romanticized feeling of the lost Spanish past.
Interestingly, the Mission Revival architecture style was never a fad, unlike the proceeding trends and genres in the 1920s and 1930s, where entire neighborhoods were designed in the same trendy style – like Craftsman and Spanish Colonial.
David Gebhard of the Architecture of San Francisco and Northern California, states “…Although the style did not transform northern California as it did the southern part of the state, hardly a single town came out of the period without at least one building clothed in Mission Revival garb.”
Arguably more popular in Southern California, if you’re wanting to go on a Mission Revival architectural tour, make sure to visit these neighborhoods in the greater Los Angeles area – Hollywood, Highland Park-Garvanza, Pico-Union, West Adams Terrace – as well as other Southern California cities including Santa Barbara, San Diego, Redlands and Riverside.
The Los Angeles Conservancy website also lists quite a few historical buildings of the Mission Revival style here.
Also a popular style in Northern California, the Noe Hill San Francisco website for points of historical interest, list a few rather stunning interpretations of the California Mission Revival, featured below.
Many of these characteristics proved ideal for the Southern California weather. The white stucco walls, tiled roof and open eaves made for cooler homes in the hotter seasons, while the large windows allow for sun-drenched warming in the winters. Along with covered patios and breezeways (or arcades), the milder climate of California can be enjoyed year-round.