Greek Architecture in Cowtown: Yippie Yi Rho Chi Yay

There were three orders in classical Greek architecture (even the word architecture is Greek, meaning “main builder”), and all three orders can be found in Fort Worth, especially in columns and their capitals. Pack a bottle of ouzo and a wedge of feta as we saddle up and go in search of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.


Doric is the oldest and simplest order. The shaft of a Doric column tapers from bottom to top and is usually fluted. (When not fluted, a Doric columns looks a lot like a later Roman variant, the Tuscan column.) The Doric column generally has neither a base nor a detailed capital. Here are (left) the north wing of the Ann Waggoner Fine Arts Building at TWU (1923) and, at Oakwood Cemetery, the family mausoleum of Christopher Rintleman (1852-1890), owner of the Local Option Saloon in Hell’s Half Acre. Rintleman advertised that his saloon had the “worse liquors, poorest cigars, and miserable billiard tables.” Judging from his final resting place, that business model served him well.

cemetery greenwood 2More Doric columns at Greenwood Cemetery.

column capital doric terrell horizontalDoric capital of the old I. M. Terrell school (1910).

A house on 5th Avenue.


An Ionic column has a shaft that is more slender than that of a Doric column. The capital usually has egg-and-dart decoration and volutes (scrolls). Here are Mt. Zion Baptist Church (1921) and the Simpson Building (originally First National Bank, 1910, Sanguinet and Staats). (Mt. Zion has egg-and-dart decoration; Simpson does not.)

column ionic pollock 3Pollock-Capps house (1899).

column thistle 1And, of course, there are hybrids. For example, the columns of Thistle Hill (1904, Sanguinet and Staats) have egg-and-dart decoration of the Ionic (see enlargement inset lower right) but no volutes.

column capital post officeLikewise, the capitals of the columns in the lobby of the central post office (1933, Hedrick) have egg-and-dart decoration but no volutes.


A Corinthian capital is decorated with volutes like the Ionic and leaves of the acanthus, a Mediterranean flowering plant.

column mcfarlandBall-Eddleman-McFarland house (1899, Messer).

column corinthian first christianFirst Christian Church (1916, Van Slyke) exterior.

column corinthian first christian baptistryFirst Christian Church interior.

corinthian libraryCentral Library (1978.)


There is a fourth order: Composite, which is a late Roman development of the Greeks’ Corinthian. A Composite capital has the volutes of the Ionic order and the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian order. However, Composite volutes are often bigger than Ionic volutes. A Composite capital also has egg-and-dart decoration.

composite burnettBurk Burnett Building (1914, Sanguinet and Staats). The egg-and-dart decoration between the volutes is stylized.

column composite travisTravis Avenue Baptist Church (1959, Geren).


Of course, Fort Worth has its own version of the Corinthian column—cowrinthian—at the central post office.

look up main post office cow capital

After all, y’all, the twelfth letter of the Greek alphabet is mu:


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5 Responses to Greek Architecture in Cowtown: Yippie Yi Rho Chi Yay

  1. Dennis Hogan says:

    I had to throw in the tau after reading this photo-essay.

  2. Mellinda Timblin says:

    The Corinthian acanthus looks like the ancient Egyptian style topper.

  3. Jo Nicholas says:

    Never too old to learn new things! Thanks a bunch for the photography and the lessons! Keep Peddling!

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Jo. Cowtown hides all sorts of goodies in plain sight. Each time I go out it’s like an Easter egg hunt.

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