Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two Palaces

On my San Antonio trip, I visited the Spanish Governor's Palace, a well-preserved downtown adobe building dating to around 1749. I thought it would be fun to compare it to the reproduction Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg. Besides the contrast of Spanish and English building styles, their difference connote the difference in political clout and trade access of the two cities. CW's palace strives to be an equal with mansions in the mother country, while San Antonio's one-story, six-room home appears to be making the best of local materials.

The biggest history lesson I took away from San Antonio's palace was that people of the past were much hardier than we are! That morning was about 90 degrees. Even wearing shorts and walking past electric fans, I was ready for a break from the stuffy indoors in about 10 minutes. How did those Spanish aristocrats in ruffled shirts and high-collared jackets survive? How did business meetings not deteriorate into bickering between sweaty, cranky colonial staff? Were they just accustomed to the climate from birth?

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