[graphic] Genero P. and Carolina Briones House



[photo] The master achievement of bricklayer and plasterer Genero Briones was his own home, ornamented with multicolored tinted stucco, carved in the pattern of an uncoursed stone wall.
Photograph courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission
The Briones House is the largest and most prominent example of tinted concrete ornamentation on a building in the state of Texas, a style introduced from Mexico in the 1920s. Home to Genero P. Briones (1899-1979) and his family, it represents the master achievement of this bricklayer and plasterer. Briones designed and built his home, working only nights and weekends, from 1947 to 1953. He learned the technique from Dionicio Rodgriguez, a San Antonio artist and recognized master. Their method of applying tinted and sculpted stucco to reinforced concrete and concrete block is unusual in Texas. Throughout his career, Briones worked on projects in Texas, Tennessee, California, and Mexico. The Briones House, known locally as the Casa de Sueños (House of Dreams), is the best preserved, most prominent example of Briones' work, and is an excellent example of modern Texas folk architecture.

[photo] The two-story front porch of the Briones house is supported by two decorated columns, and includes an outdoor staircase. The concrete table and chair set also designed by Briones are visible in the foreground of the photograph.
Photograph courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission

Concrete block construction in the United States dates to the first decade of the 20th century, with the production of improved, inexpensive, and easy-to-use concrete block machines. The first portion of the Briones House, completed in 1953, was a two-story duplex that contained five rooms on each floor. The two units featured identical floor plans--a living room and master bedroom in the front, with a kitchen, second bedroom and bathroom in the rear. The interior of the ground floor is detailed with tinted plaster and sculptural elements, including a living room grotto, sculpted concrete "stones," and tree-like moldings. The exterior of the house is finished with multicolored (green, blue, yellow, red, rust, beige, black) tinted stucco, carved in the pattern of an uncoursed stone wall. A two-story front porch is supported by two decorated columns, and includes an outdoor staircase. Polychromatic pictorial details such as flowers and stars blend with the faux wood and stone of the stuccoed surfaces. Gereno and Carolina, his wife, lived in ground floor duplex. By 1960, Briones completed a two-story tinted concrete addition which includes a kitchen annex, guest room, and storage space. Briones also created several concrete sculptures for the grounds of the house, including flamingos, a settee, table and chairs, a flagpole/planter and basket. He continually made small additions to the house until his death in the late 1970s. Carolina continues to reside in their home.

 

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