The German settlers introduced a high level of refinement to the fertile land of Fayette County, Texas in the mid 20th Century. Almost immediately primitive cabins gave way to ambitious well-proportioned neoclassical stone buildings. These evocative structures were characterized by a restraint that was in vogue in Europe and in sync with the limited means of the proud new Texans. Soon, Texas became a state of the Union and the Americans introduced board and batten wood frame buildings that could be erected with efficiency and ease. Though wood frame became more common, the strong neoclassical volumes held. Both soon draped in porches as the need for protection from the strong wind and harsh elements was more important than light filled rooms. A beautiful and distinct regional Architecture was born. The elusive sense of place evoked by these building traditions is what we responded to, and it was our intent to pick up this unique thread and use it as a spring board to construct a 21st century ranch house that would stand the test of time.
Completed in 2009, the Harvey Ranch House is actually a Compound of a half dozen structures, none larger than 1500 square feet that functions as the Ranch Headquarters for a young family from Houston. The Compound is constructed around an ancient oak tree on a rock outcropping above a palmetto lined spring. The House is oriented to catch the southeast breeze, and is first visible from across the east pasture where the road skirts an Orchard before winding into a Court on the west side.
A formal buttressed masonry structure sheathed in crisp white plaster contains the Main Hall. The symmetrical Hall establishes the heart of the compound and is entered through a pair of doors on an east/west axis. Guests on Horseback or vehicle enter through the West Court. On foot, one enters from the east lawn. In Spring and Summer the doors and windows are left open. In the Fall and Winter, fires are lit in fireplaces that anchor sitting areas on the north and south walls. This room contains the collection of arrowheads and artifacts found on the property during construction. Lime-washed pine floors are a coarse counterpoint to the cool plaster walls and withstand the abuse of daily ranch life.
North of the Main Hall, and across a breezeway, a wood frame Kitchen structure, wrapped with Porches, links to various stone support buildings that enclose a small herb garden.
South of the Main Hall is the Library. This octagonal masonry structure is also clad in plaster and eight murals above the bookcases depict the evolution of the region. The Master Suite is constructed of stone, and lies directly beyond the Library. The screen Porch that encloses the Library provides access to a long porch adjacent to the Old Oak, and links to the stone Laundry Building and wood frame Bunk House. The Screen Porch terminates at a trail that connects to the Palmetto spring and swimming tanks.