Stucco History & Spanish Renaissance in Florida

Stucco history goes way back and many original constructions still stand in the country and around the world today. One of these places sits in north middle Florida, and here is some interesting facts about stucco and it’s many structures.

Those Spanish-style houses dotting downtown St. Cloud are just reminders of a nationwide renaissance in the Spanish colonial architecture that became the rage in the early 1920s.

The couple of dozen or so houses, looking something like a hybrid of forts, missions and presidios, became popular after Spanish-colonial buildings were introduced at the 1915 San Diego Exposition, according to American Shelter, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Home.

The houses can also be found in other areas of Osceola County, Fl., including the old sections of downtown Kissimmee.

The style became popular in areas with a Hispanic past: Southern California, New Mexico, southern Arizona, Texas and Florida, It lasted from 1915 to 1940, but around 1925, it became a craze.

The houses exhibit an architectural mix of late Moorish elements, medieval Spanish church qualities, Baroque styles from Colonial Spain and Portugal and Pueblo and Mission features.

A few of the most common characteristics include red-tiled roofs, white plaster stucco walls, arched windows and doorways, wrought-iron trim around balconies and windows and vent holes in the walls.

''That particular style was very popular in the southeastern part of Florida and it carried into Osceola,'' says one curator for the Osceola County Historical Society. ''It was first built for the very wealthy people'' but with its popularity and demand, the houses eventually became affordable for the average homeowner, he said.

Many of the houses were simple wood-frame houses with rough-textured stucco added onto the outside. Others were made of concrete block and then covered with the characteristic stucco.

The Spanish-Colonial style in Florida never developed into the highly ornamented style seen in Mexico.

It's amazing how sturdy so many of them are, It was easy to build and they never put as much into it as they got out of it.

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Whether it's smooth and scored to look like stone, textured or pebble dashed, stucco is a decorative finish that adds an element of fashion to many old houses.

As such, it should be maintained and restored in the best manner possible. Many of the ingredients of early stucco either aren't available today or have changed over the years.

Because of this, it's nearly impossible to get an exact duplication of an original stucco. It is, however, possible to come close enough to restore minor patches of failed stucco. The trick here is to try and match the original stucco mixture as close as possible in strength, composition color and texture.

Houses built around the turn of the century usually have original stucco that is cement-based. A simple way to determine whether your stucco is cement or lime-based, is to put a piece of the stucco in a glass of water. If it doesn't stay firm and most of it dissolves and becomes mushy, it's safe to assume you're working with a soft lime/sand stucco.

In general, stucco will adhere well to new concrete walls because the surface has an open texture that quickly draws the stucco into the minute pores of the concrete. Because the materials are similar, there is also a chemical bond as well as a mechanical one.

For a more contemporary look, stucco is used to create bands around the home's exterior, windows and doors. It also is used for decorative accents such as keystones or quoins. A skilled stucco technician can match existing exterior finishes.

Cultured stone. This faux stone is a manufactured product that offers many benefits of a stone veneer. The stone can be made into any size, shape, style, color, type and configuration. It can be applied to any type of construction or surface and, because it is lightweight, it does not require a foundation. Cultured stone is durable, colorfast and maintenance-free.

Brick. Brick is one of the oldest exteriors, yet it remains one of the most popular. It is available in hundreds of different sizes, shapes, textures and colors. From frosted whites to pinks to deep reds, burgundies, chocolates, buffs, grays and charcoal tones, the choices offer tremendous design latitude.

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