GTT – Gone to Texas
When some clients of mine recently built a home, it reminded me of the “dog trot” houses built by Texas settlers in the 1800s. The resemblance is a simple and elegant design that captures cool breezes even during Texas’ brutal summers.
In the 1800’s many folks heading to Texas from southeastern states painted GTT (Gone to Texas) on their door, and left for the land of opportunity. Many of them constructed “dog trot” houses, which consisted of two log cabins connected by a breezeway under a common roof. Physical orientation was key.
Construction may have been done in stages, and evolved over the years – but, hey, there were no mortgages.
Dog Trot House of 1800’s
Dog Trot House of 2012
The breezeway was a very practical part of the dogtrot. It consisted of mudroom, living room, pet room and generally a place to congregate in the shade with where cooler air provided a respite. Later an upstairs and additional porches might be added.
The concept caught on in Texas and the South, and prevailed for many years of the 19th Century.
More recently, my clients Jesus and Judy took a standard home plan from Jimmy Jacobs builders in Georgetown and modified it into something akin to a dogtrot house. It is built around a living room-breezeway that extends from the front door to the back wall, which is a “Nana” type glass-wall system.
The front of the house faces southeast to capture the prevailing wind, and the rear of the house opens to a courtyard, by way of the “Nana” door. A nana door is a folding glass door, or effectively the wall.
When Jesus and Judy open the nana door and the front door or windows, the prevailing breeze cools the interior of the house nicely. The kitchen and bedrooms extend from either side of the breezeway-living area.
Their fabulous backyard opens up to the living room and brings the outdoors in. It must be authentic because their dogs like the livingroom/breezeway as Texas hounds always have.
Located in the Heritage Oaks subdivision of Georgetown, the house took some perseverance to construct. The builders had to be persuaded to construct something “open” to the Texas weather rather than enclosing and wrapping it all in air conditioning.
But independence and inventiveness is always the path less traveled.
Watch this video and see if you agree if they have captured the essence of the Texas Republic in their energy saving, modern Georgetown home.
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