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Jesús Treviño Fort (Treviño-Uribe Rancho)

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Treviño-Uribe Rancho
1830–1871. Uribe Ave. at Treviño St.
  • (Photograph by Gerald Moorhead)

Before a traditional plaza was created by the platting of the San Ygnacio townsite in 1874, the community had already grown around its original nucleus, the Treviño Fort. Begun in 1830, the original structure, or cuarto viejo, was a one-room fortified sandstone dwelling built by Jesús Treviño, a native of Guerrero, to provide refuge from Indian raids to the ranch hands who tended his herds. The room stands today with its earthen floor and single exterior opening closed by a massive mesquite door mounted on pivots lined with leather.

After 1848, descendants of Treviño moved permanently to the structure to protect their lands north of the river. An intense building campaign in the 1850s led to the expansion and enclosure of the compound around a courtyard, or corralón, with a nine-foot wall punctured by gunports. The walls of the new living quarters, the casa larga, are covered in lime plaster and highlighted with carved stone lintels, while the floors and rooftops are covered with chipichil, a mixture of lime and stone aggregate from the river. The roof system is composed of cypress beams with decorative written inscriptions in their lower face, such as “En Paz y Libertad Obremos” (“In Peace and Liberty We Work”), as well as the date of construction, another architectural feature found throughout the region. A distinctive rounded parapet topped by a sundial provides a focal point to the compound entrance. When the last room was added in 1871, as evidenced by its beam inscription, it showcased the latest architectural innovations brought by ox cart from Corpus Christi: milled wooden beams and pine floors.

The houses of the earliest settlers of San Ygnacio are clustered near the fort along Uribe Avenue. Although preserved in scale and in basic configuration, the exteriors of these houses have been altered, often obscuring their main architectural features. The Mercurio Martinez House (1890), at the corner of Uribe Avenue and Laredo Street, better preserves its original fabric.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


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Gerald Moorhead et al., "Jesús Treviño Fort (Treviño-Uribe Rancho)", [San Ygnacio, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: Central, South, and Gulf Coast, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 277-280.

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