The interior can be arranged to suit any condition. The tendency of the present day is to build the house reducing the number of stories in height, thus eliminating the climbing of stairs. A house spread out has the preference. This gives the possibility of the inner court or patio, which forms the center of the Spanish family life. These courts are built with arches forming cloisters one story high, or as supporting arches carrying a second story above.
In the center generally is a fountain, around which are gathered potted plants and palms; here the family gathers and friends are received and entertained. The normal man, in his private life, hates publicity and craves retirement.
Houses thus built present this to the best advantage, as the interior of the building can be made very attractive and livable. The exterior walls can be opened by use of arches or posts, giving spacious porches for those who desire them. In the larger courts, trees were planted, and rose bushes were cultivated.
From the fountain often ran streams of water carried off in open channels, around which flowers were planted. These interior courts of the Spanish Missions were used first as centers for protection, within which the monks were safe and free from anxiety. Here they would congregate in leisure hours and take their exercise. Then they began to beautify the open space, which resulted in the adoption of forms similar to the luxuriant and charming formal gardens.
The writer does not advocate the Spanish Mission as the best type of architecture to be followed universally, but this argument is intended to show how it can be adapted, and how appropriate it is to surburban life,
First and foremost we must build with the materials at our disposal. We are entering upon a period of wood famine. The lavish use of wood as in former days, must be curtailed, and it will soon be out of the question as a building,material. We are by necessity rapidly advancing to the concrete and cement age, following the footsteps of the old world. Concrete is being used in buildings in this country more to-day than ever before. It is easy of construction when properly handled and does not require skilled labor in its formation. Thus the expense is reduced. This is a marked advantage, especially in the country where masons for stone and brick work are scarce and often must be transported from the city. The outside face of the walls is covered with cement or stucco, forming window and door jambs, and, with the roofs of tile, the use of wood is reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary that the walls be built of concrete for this style of building, as brick or stone will answer the purpose in place of the concrete. Tiled roofs are generally used. Where the floors are exposed to the rain and moisture, as in porches and cloisters, flat tiles are used. This flooring is good, and economical, as it requires practically no attention.
More and more the desire is growing for baths and plunges. The "Roman bath" seems to be returning to popular use. Where land can be used freely the bath can be connected with the main house very conveniently in this type of building, surrounding it with rooms or with a blank wall as desired. In similar manner can be constructed the stable or garage.
The old Mission and Mexican buildings were almost hidden by trees, and for those who appreciate landscape gardening this type of building affords a splendid opportunity for enrichment with planting.
This Mission style of architecture is not applicable to congested city uses, where land is so valuable and height of building is the ambition, but when applied to country or suburban uses, what is more appropriate? What can be more refreshing than after the labors of the day to leave the city with its confusion and jumbled collection of all kinds and styles of architecture, as seen in the average business streets of all our cities, to come to the country home with its quiet and rest?
The modern houses of red brick, the fanciful reproduction and imitations of castles and chateaux, often perched in the most inappropriate positions, become irksome. Instead of this we come to the quiet and restful Mission with its setting of trees, flowers, vines and gardens.