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Mission revival style – golden gate national recreation area (u.s. national park service)

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This Crissy Field administrative building was constructed in 1921 in the Mission Revival style.

History of the Style

By the late 19th century, California architects made a monumental shift in the direction of their architectural inspiration. Rather than continuing to adopt imported East Coast architectural styles, these architects recognized the value of their own historic surroundings, where the Spanish Colonial mission heritage of California and the Southwest had built beautiful mission chapels, with thick, white stucco walls, red clay roofs and bell towers. These West Coast architects launched the Mission Revival style, which was characterized by silhouetted shapes that mimicked the old missions, with large flat stucco surfaces, often punctuated by deep windows and door openings. The exterior surface was usually devoid of any ornamental detail; the shadow patterns of the roof overhangs displayed on the walls were usually the only building decoration. The gable and hip roofs had overhanging eaves and were typically sheathed with red clay tile. The Mission Revival style became more visible and popular across the west as the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railways embraced the style with their new stations and resort hotels.

ceramic tile mosaic


Mission Revival buildings at Golden Gate

Fort Winfield Scott, constructed on the Presidio in 1912 as the new headquarters for the coastal artillery defense, was one of the army’s first building projects in the Mission Revival style. The new, large barracks and administrative buildings were built with flat, unadorned white stucco walls, decorative parapets and red tile roofs. Fort Winfield Scott’s design was considered a great success and eventually the Mission Revival style became a visual tool that identified the army’s military presence. By the 1930s, the Mission Revival style became so popular with the San Francisco-based army that they repainted most of their older buildings off-white and replaced dark roofing material with new red clay tiles, in order to create a uniform appearance.

bathroom ceramic tile


(Return to the Guide of Architectural Styles at Golden Gate)

The Mission Revival elements of Fort Winfield Scott (Presidio) Building 1208:

  • 1. Mission-shaped roof parapet
  • 2. Wide, overhanging eaves with decorative brackets
  • 3. Red clay roof tiles
  • 4. Arched doorways
  • 5. Deep window openings without any framing, except the sill GGNRA, NPS

    In 1908, the army established the San Francisco Port of Embarkation at lower Fort Mason. Instead of using standard building plans, the army hired an architectural firm who built the port’s buildings in the Mission Revival style. Building C has a hipped roof with clay tiles, overhanging eaves with brackets, and an undecorated, concrete surface.В  PARC, GGNRA

    white ceramic tile


    The Fort Mason Chapel, constructed in 1942, exhibits many classic Mission Revival elements. Covered in white stucco and red roof tiles, the building has a bell tower, a projected arched entryway, a center quatrefoil window vent and deep, narrow windows. GGNRA,NPS

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