San Antonio’s Contemporary Art Month (CAM) has been around for over 30 years now. To me, architecture is a form of art, so in the spirit of CAM I decided to highlight a Contemporary Style house in King William. According to Virginia McAlester in her book A Field Guide to American Houses, the “Contemporary Style” house “was the favorite for the architect-designed houses built during the period from about 1950 to 1970.”
McAlester’s research identified two distinct subtypes based on the roof type: flat or gable. The flat roof, such as the Fincias House at 322 King William, derives its architectural elements from the International Style (1925-Present), with flat roof, horizontal massing, and little to no decoration, but rejects the smooth white stucco/concrete walls. The Contemporary Style uses different wall materials such as concrete block, breeze block, brick and wood, thus distinguishing Contemporary from International. Both styles tend to have wider than taller windows to emphasize the horizontal massing of the structure.
Francisca and Maria Escamilla sold the vacant lot at 322 King William to widow Consuelo Garza Fincias in 1951. By 1952, Consuelo signed a contract with Cox Construction Company to “furnish lumber, materials and labor” to construct improvements on her property for $9,000. She and her son designed and built the small concrete block home. It was the last house constructed on King William Street. Based on the year of construction, the overall massing, flat roof and architectural detail, it is a good example of the Contemporary Style.
- Cherise Bell