The round dance halls of Texas : history of a building type, 1897-1937

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2008-05

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Abstract

Texas is home to many dance halls, but only 18 are known to have been built with a “round” (non-orthogonal) plan. Their common design was first conceived by the Austin County carpenter Joachim Hintz in 1897 for the twelve-sided Bellville Turnverein Pavilion. For the next 40 years, variations on the building type were disseminated and constructed exclusively in Central and South Texas farming communities settled by German and Czech immigrants. These structures were probably based on the octagonal barn plans promoted heavily in the agricultural press at the end of the nineteenth century, yet they look nothing like the round barns of New York and New England or the domed masonry dairy barns of the upper Midwest. This building type is unique to Texas. The majority of the state’s six-, eight-, and 12-sided dance halls were built in a line along State Highway 36 and the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad. This thesis explores the architectural history and physical characteristics of these very special Texas dance halls.

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