Rustic Craftsman Design at Lake Brownwood State Park

posted by Baker Galloway

Last week my family and I visited Lake Brownwood State Park. Among the park's treasures are a number of structures built by the CCC in the 1930's. If you don't know the story, a camp of about two hundred young men between the ages of 17–23 built structures in a number of state and national parks, in this case from 1934–1942, funded by the federal government. They made about $30/week and had to send $25 of it home to their families. What they left behind are some monumental artifacts of craftsmanship that will hopefully endure for centuries.

“Texan architecture is an expression of a frontier culture that while still trying to make the wilderness livable is nonetheless quite proud to be here, and plans on staying.” 

The design philosophy of the time we now refer to as NPS Rustic. For more background information, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine wrote a good article on the park here, and an introduction to the CCC structures in other Texas Parks here

AUTHENTICALLY TEXAN ARCHITECTURE

My takeaway from the structures we got to explore is that there was something special captured here that embodies my understanding of the Texan spirit. The rustic buildings are hand-crafted but not ornate or cosmopolitan; they make reference to classical forms but are not fussy about them. They are an expression of a frontier culture that while still trying to make the wilderness livable is nonetheless quite proud to be here, and plans on staying. 

The Texas Parks & Wildlife CCC website also has a great overview of NPS Rustic design philosophy, as executed in Texas state parks in the 1930's.

Below I share some pictures from our trip, and a video at the end.  

OUTSIDE THE RECREATION HALL:

Note the custom light fixtures, forged 50 yards away in the blacksmith shop.

INSIDE THE RECREATION HALL:

HVAC and fluorescent light coves were added in the 1970's.

PAVILION:

This pavilion overlooks the lake. Its low walls balance privacy with transparency for an an ideal sitting area to watch the afternoon move towards evening. 

Located near the geographic center of Texas, Lake Brownwood State Park is a showcase of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) handiwork. The 7300 acre lake is a great spot for fishing, boating, swimming, picnicking and camping. For more information, visit www.LifesBetterOutside.org.

And one last look at the park's gorgeous stonemasonry as you're leaving: