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Inter-War Spanish Mission c. 1915—C. 1940

California, New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida inherited a distinctive arthitectural legacy from the days of Spanish colonisation. Especially noteworthy were the Franciscan missions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These attractive buildings mingled the exuberant richness of Spanish Baroque with a sturdy, plain solidity which reflected a dependence on local, unskilled labour and the use of sun-dried adobe blocks for the construction of walls.
As early as the 1880s the now-crumbling missions in California, together with Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel Ramona, were being used to create a popular image of a romantic, idealised Hispanic past—an image that drew many settlers to California. Almost immediately, some California architects—among them A. Page Brown, Albert C. Schweinfurth and Willis Polk—started to evolve a Mission Revival style. From the 189os to the mid- twentieth century and beyond, mission-inspired architecture prospered in the United States. Addison Mizner did much to popularise the idiom in Florida during the early 1920s. Hollywood stars of the inter-war years also gave the style a boost by favouring it for their luxurious, well-publicised homes—as did the press baron William Randolph Hearst when he commissioned Julia Morgan to design his grandiose San Simeon. While many such buildings completely lack the monastic virtues of simplicity and reticence, Spanish Mission is still an appropriate label. It was the aura of romance surrounding the old missions, rather than architectural specifics, which generated and maintained enthusiasm for the style.

Australia during the 1920s and 1930s was not immune to cultural propaganda emanating from California, and the Inter-War Spanish Mission style was seen as an attractive option when considering the design of a house, a cinema, or even a service station. The language was quite easily learned: round-headed arches (preferably in groups of three) supported on plain, heavy piers or on twisted Baroque columns; some ornamental wrought iron, painted black; half-round roof tiles (at least in prominent locations); cream-painted stucco applied to brick walls with carefully practised roughness to simulate peon-built adobe masonry; and, if possible, a little splash of colourful ceramic tile ornament in, say, orange and emerald

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Roxy Parramatta

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George Street Theatre

Boomerang, Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay, NSW. Neville I-Iampson, architect, 1926. One of the most opulently Spanish houses in Australia.
Former State Theatre (now Forum Cinemos), Flinders Street, Melbourne, Vic. Bohringer, Taylor & Johnson, architects, 1928. An ‘atmospheric’ cinema, conveying the impression of an enormous Moorish palace, with a jewe1led’ copper dome.
Quoted from:
"A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Austrlian Architecture; Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present"
Angus & Robertson Sydney 1995 ISBN 0207 18562 X
Copyright © 1989 by Richard Apperly, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds.
Style Definition
A revival of Spanish and Moorish architecture from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, this style was especially popular for resort hotels in places like Florida, California, and Hawaii. Northern variants on Spanish Revival featured more elaborate detail and colorful facades without the castle-like shapes of the resort complexes. The style was also extremely popular for movie houses.

Typical features of Spanish Revival are cupolas, turrets, rounded arcades, twisted columns, red clay barrel tile roofs, iron railings, curved balconies, twisted columns, colorful tilework, small obelisks and finials, and grand bursts of white baroque ornament: all intended for exotic effect.

  An example of Spanish Mission, Heidelberg, Victoria