Territorial Architecture


Classic newer Territorial with flat roof & brick crown mold at the parapet.

Territorial architecture is one of the oldest architectural styles in the United States. It is often confused with Santa Fe architecture. Actually Santa Fe is sort of a generic term that refers to Territorial & Pueblo styles which you can find in abundance in the Santa Fe Area. In New Mexico, Arizona & Texas formerly Spanish territories these homes were simple one story structures with flat roofs and little embellishment. They were simple by necessity. For reasons of self defense there were few windows and usually a central patio or plaza behind large heavy gates. The original building material was adobe with few embellishments. As Anglo immigrants move to these areas they introduced prosperity and new ways of building. The basic wall structure remained adobe with or without stucco; now fired brick coping crowned the parapets which protected the walls from water damage (a constant worry). As railroads came to these remote areas they brought Greek Revival style ornamentation, prehung windows & doors. Local carpenters were able to copy & embellish these details and make them their own. Eventually lumber mills were located near these areas and local craftsman were able to develop their own unique ornamentation. The most dramatic change to these homes was the introduction of shingles & metal roofs. This in turn introduced the gable & hip roof. Often these roofs were built over existing flat roofs.

Luxury Homes

Vintage Territorial with classic decorative wood pediment at window.

Today Territorial Architecture is found primarily in New Mexico & Texas. Arizona and specifically the Phoenix area have a few of them. Casas del Oso Luxury Homes built one in Cave Creek approximately 20 years ago. We would love to do another one!

Today this architectural style is easily identifiable: simple rectangular structure, with or without stucco, hip roof with shingles or tin or flat roof with brick crown, porch running across the front of the structure and the identifying wooden pediments over the windows & exterior doors. They are classic architecture and lovely.