Influence of culture, faith, environment, and building technology on the built form: the case of nineteenth-century Catholic churches in Galveston, Texas
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Why do churches of the same faith built in the same location and era of time differ in their built form? The focus of this dissertation led to the identification of four variables that influence the built form. These are culture, faith, environment and building technology. The physical location (Galveston, Texas), Catholicism, and era of time (last half of the nineteenth century (19C)) are significant to the framework of this study. A single location held constant the physical environment-climate and topography. Catholicism held constant faith. The era of time exposed the study churches to the same, but evolving, built environment and building technology. Galveston, in particular, during the era of study, presented a dynamic confluence of these variables. The city emerged as the commercial entrepôt and financial center for Texas. It was Texas's cultural capital and its most dynamic urban center boasting the most advanced architecture. It had the best newspapers and theater in the state and was the first city in Texas to provide electricity and telephones. During this era Galveston was a gateway for thousands of European Catholic immigrants, who brought to Texas a diversity of culture, traditions and skills. The Catholic Church chose Galveston as the place to reassert itself in America against a Protestant wave swept westward on a tide of settlement. A conceptual model illustrating the interaction of these variables among each other and on the built form was created. From this model two subordinate models were developed and three hypotheses were derived which test the assumption that variety in church form and construction is a function of culture. The research is a qualitative approach implementing a comparative analysis methodology of multiple cases-five Catholic churches (the study units). The data for the individual study units were analyzed against a set of criteria for each of the variables identified. A comparative analysis matrix was used to contrast these data between the variables and the study units from which conclusions were drawn. The results of this analysis demonstrated that of these variables culture was the most influential on the built form, thus supporting the research hypotheses. Therefore, it is concluded that the variety in the churches' built form was a function of culture.
Dubbelde, David Mark (2006). Influence of culture, faith, environment, and building technology on the built form: the case of nineteenth-century Catholic churches in Galveston, Texas. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from