William H. Maverick selected prominent architect Alfred Giles (1853-1920) to design his elegant stone residence. Giles had designed many other commercial and residential structures for Maverick family members, beginning with the Albert Maverick residence at 218 Avenue E in 1877. As a world traveler, William Maverick was well-versed in architectural design. His daughter, Laura Maverick Graves, recalled that the house incorporated elements of a house Maverick “had admired in Cleveland, Ohio.”
Known widely for several Texas county courthouses and commercial buildings, Alfred Giles completed the limestone Richardsonian Romanesque house in 1893. There are no shortages of masterpieces from the famed architect, and this house richly complements such a grand collection of Giles’s works. The house is a mix of Romanesque forms and those more commonly used in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Most openings are rectangular with massive stone lintels and sills. A round-arched quasi-Palladian window on the second floor over the main entrance confirms this grand mixture of styles.
The backyard of the house slopped into the San Antonio River prior to the rechanneling by the city after several devastating floods. The old riverbed roughly became what is today Auditorium Circle. The Circle surrounds the Atlee B. Ayres designed masterpiece Municipal Auditorium, a preeminent example of Spanish Colonial Revival style, built in 1926. The Maverick Carter House and Toltec Apartments remain two of only a few structures from the original neighborhood which included the Adina de Zavala House as well as the J. J. Stevens Residence, a J. Reilly Gordon design.
The interior design of the house features just as many exquisite details as the exterior. The Entry Hall has some of the most beautiful wood and plaster details found in all of Giles’s work. Both the wainscot and the coffered ceiling have bird’s-eye maple panels surrounded by straight-grain maple tiles and rails. Parquet wood floors line the walls, adorning both the entry and dining rooms. The large carved red sandstone fireplace mantle on the south wall of the dining “room was Mr. Maverick’s special pride.” Mr. Maverick’s library, also on the first floor, had walls “lined with oak shelves and countless books.” Later, Aline Carter converted the library into her private chapel. A spectacular maple arch at far end of the main stairs encompasses a chapel door entrance and benches before climbing to a teardrop hanging from the stair structure above. In the entry and parlor rooms, Lincrusta, or decorative embossed wallcoverings of floral swags and ribbons at the cornice level, is a rare surviving example of the delicate material (paste of gelled linseed oil and wood flour over a paper base) in any Texas city.
Added features include the Sun Room (or Solarium), the library conversion into a chapel circa 1925, and the construction of the rooftop observatory circa 1925. The latter two additions were designed by famous local artisans Ethel Wilson Harris and her husband Arthur Harris of San Jose Mission Pottery and the Arts and Crafts Division of the Works Progress Administration.
The Maverick Carter Carriage House, also constructed in 1893, unfortunately burned in a fire circa 1940. During the blaze, the arched carriage doors collapsed along with the entire front (north wall) façade. However, three original first floor brick walls survived and were kept intact in subsequent rebuilding efforts. From the 1968 to 2000 the carriage house had been encased with white lattice until efforts were made to reconstruct a second floor. No photograph fully captures the front façade with the carriage doors, however, partial images have been found. These images indicate flat roof dormers to the side and rear and an elaborate wall dormer with double windows above the two carriage doors to the front (north wall) view. A few aerial photographs from 1926 also show the side and rear of the carriage house, with its unusual polygon footprint. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps confirm the second floor stairway entrance on the west wall. Interviews with David and Frank Carter further inform the existence of two rooms on the second floor.
The Alfred Giles residential home designs in San Antonio and Mexico and elsewhere demonstrate the mastery and breadth of Victorian styles the architect commanded. The Edward Steves Homestead on 509 King William St., for example, features a magnificent mansard roof. The distinguished house is now run by the San Antonio Conservation Society as a home museum. Nearby on 335 King William St. stands the acclaimed Carl Groos House with elegant broad front porches and belvedere roof. A third Giles work on King William St., the Sartor House on 217 King William, displays fine Italianate detailing. However, it is the 1894 Edwin Terrell residence on 950 Grayson St., known as “Lambermont“, with which the Maverick Carter House shares many details. Though different in design (being patterned after castles and chateaus in Belgium and France), the house includes many overlapping tastes in addition to the coffered ceilings and identically designed handrails. Pat and Dona Liston beautifully restored the mansion with faithful care recently, revealing its exquisite artisan craft.
Few original Alfred Giles architectural drawings survive today. The Maverick Carter House had the great fortune of showcasing the architect’s genius on paper through precise hand measurements and redrawing. In 1999, measured drawings of the Maverick Carter House were produced by students from the School of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Their efforts won the prestigious Charles Peterson Prize which is awarded annually by the National Park Service, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the American Institute of Architects to recognize the best set of measured drawings prepared for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).
“A student competition of measured drawings, the Charles E. Peterson Prize is presented jointly by the National Park Service’s Heritage Documentation Programs (HABS/HAER/HALS), the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, and the American Institute of Architects. The annual competition, currently in its 35th year, honors Charles E. Peterson, FAIA (1906-2004), a founder of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), and is intended to heighten awareness about historic buildings, structures, and cultural landscapes in the United States, and to augment the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection of measured drawings at the Library of Congress. In addition to generating almost 6,800 sheets of drawings for the collection to date, the competition presents awards totaling $7,500 to the winning student teams. Drawings must be of a site that has not been recorded by HABS, HAER, or HALS through measured drawings, or be an addendum to an existing set of HABS, HAER, or HALS drawings that makes a substantial contribution to the understanding of the significance of the building, structure, or cultural landscape.”
– National Park Service’s Heritage Documentation Programs (HABS/HAER/HALS), the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, and the American Institute of Architects
The winning student team, all interior design majors, included Lisa E. Dunne, Lisa M. LeJune, and Linda S. Manning. Their faculty advisors were William Barbee and W. Eugene George.