Texas is know for many great things, but the cornerstone of the state is its historic ranches, many only a shadow of their former glory. Most have been divided, carved up and the vast acreage sold off over the centuries.
These forever proud ranches captured the very essence of the spirit of the west bearing such famous names as King Ranch, 6666, XIT and the Pitchfork Ranch.
Historic properties with an original ranch house are greatly prized. Most were built with nearby river rock, with shade trees and sited toward the Southeast to capture the cool Gulf of Mexico breezes.
In the past land and barns were more important than the house, but times have changed.
Today, ranch owners look to not only impress by the size of their spread, but relax in cowboy style.
Beauty coupled with strength, these fortified homes were built for protection in times of trouble, with small windows and thick walls to help keep the house cool.
Whether built of timber, stone, stucco or wood the style of houses varied from the humble farm house
grand Spanish Mediterranean
sturdy German Stone
or sprawling Texas Ranch house
No matter how large or small, they needed lots of water.
To early settlers water was life. Today it is used primarily as a ranch aestetic, with water increasing the value of a ranch whether its live water or ground tanks pumped from a well.
Historic ranches large vegtable gardens to feed their large families.
Yet some modern ranch homes create an unfamilar landscape using non-native plantings to create greenery never known before in the Lone Star State.
Never ask a rancher how many acres they own because its considered bad manners.
And there are some designs that are really cliche, but to Texans they are design staples, such as the wagon wheel gate.
Murals are used alot on historic ranches and the cowboy theme is ever present. Mexican blankets are used as bold, colorful interior designs.
Because Texas is heavily Christian and Catholic, many ranches incorporate religious icons such as a cross or madonna for somber reflection.
This 150 year old bathroom has a galvanized, standing-room-only cowboy shower.
Old and new homesteads feature beadboard ceilings. The ever present fan, coupled with rock walls keep interior rooms cool. The tourquoise colored ceiling? Its original to this 150 year old ranch.
Mexican pottery dishes and handmade pastry covers decorated with crocheted seashells is a beautiful touch for guests. Notice the linen napkin pressed and very proper?
Modern ranch homes a not common, but most are near to Austin, Texas where a new generation is redefining their idea of Hill Country Chic.
Grand living rooms for entertaining and
Historic ranches are primarily built with rock and beams, but this one also has a rock floor.
Bead board ceilings give a new ranch instant character.
The use of this rock was creative and was built using Medina, Texas river rock.
Because of the hot Texas heat, some historic ranch houses had an external kitchen, which was incorporated later into the home.
This old rock horse stable has over 30 horse stalls and is big even by Texas standards!
Even with short winters, Texans love fires.
Outside especially they create fire pits for parties under the stars.
Texans love their ranches. Whether a sprawling mansion…
or a quiet patch of heaven by a wandering river…
The image of the cowboy is ever present in our minds.