Mission Style

The turn-of-the-century house style known as Mission – (or Spanish Mission, California Mission, or Mission Revival) – was inspired by the historic mission churches built by Spanish priests and colonists in the late 18th century. The earliest Mission style homes were built in California. Though the style spread eastward, most Mission style homes are found in the southwestern states, where they reflect the architecture of their Hispanic settlers. The Mission style movement enjoyed its greatest popularity between 1890 and 1915. By the 1920’s, architects were combining features from other movements including: Prairie, Pueblo, Arts & Crafts. Mission style architecture evolved into the Spanish Colonial Revival style, which has historical, nostalgic, cultural, and environmental associations. The homes’ climate-appropriateness makes this architectural style predominant in the Southwest, especially in California. Spanish Revival homes became popular in California during the 1920’s following the Panama-California Exposition, which took place in San Diego from 1915-1917.

The Features of Mission Style Architecture:

  • Style of necessity and security evolved around an enclosed courtyard
  • Architecture Features: low-pitched roofs with projecting wide eaves, non-flammable clay roof tiles (usually red terra cotta), roof parapets, thick arches rising from piers, twisted columns and large, square pillars, an arcaded entry porch, other deeply-shaded porches
  • Exterior Features: functional outdoor shade arcades and courtyards, long arcades, carved entry doors, wrought iron gates
  • Window Features: round or quatrefoil windows, window grills, arched dormers, limited design and placement
  • Massive adobe walls with broad unadorned plaster surfaces – exterior walls were coated with white plaster (stucco), smooth texture
  • Elaborate arches, semi-independent gables, and bell towers
  • Classic Spanish features

The Features of Mission Style Interior Design:

  • Dark interior – particularly suited for warmer climates
  • An enfilade of interior rooms and halls – (a suite of rooms with doorways in line with each other)
  • Decorative wrought iron throughout the home
  • Grand foyer with a Spanish-style chandelier, wall sconces, and stair railing
  • Wooden ceiling beams – usually repeated in a fireplace mantel
  • Stucco walls – sometimes painted with layers of warm tones, and also found on kitchen hoods and fireplaces
  • Hand-painted tiles on stair risers – colorful, with complex patterns
  • Built-in niches and alcoves
  • Arches – found in archways, doors, windows, alcoves, and niches
  • Terra cotta tile typically used on entry and kitchen floors
  • Cut steel work
  • Dark wood with deep brown tones
  • Rich fabrics – brocade, “jewel tones”
  • Interior walls shielded from the sun – keeping interior temperatures cool and comfortable