John H. Kampmann, Master Builder

San Antonio's German Influence in the 19th Century

Non-Fiction - Historical
200 Pages
Reviewed on 01/18/2014
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Barbara Peterson for Readers' Favorite

I selected John H. Kampmann, Master Builder: San Antonio's German Influence in the 19th Century, by Maggie Valentine, because I was intrigued by the book's description. I had simply assumed that the architecture of San Antonio, up until the last hundred years or so of course, would have all been adaptations of the Spanish model - I had no idea that there was such a strong community of German immigrants in the region or that they contributed so much to the city.

I knew very little about architecture - what I did know came solely from Ayn Rand's book The Fountainhead, so I found the details of the various buildings built by German immigrant John H. Kampmann fascinating. Author Valentine supplies several photos of various buildings, as well several few floor plans. She gives the history and architectural insights into many of the buildings Kampmann was hired to build. This could have become boring to anyone except architectural devotees, but she leavens that information with bits of history about the owners of the houses, or certain historical events that took place there.

There's not a lot of biographical detail about Kampmann - there's not much extant, but Valentine goes into what she can, including the division between the German community of San Antonio during the Civil War, with some joining the Union and others the Confederacy. I thoroughly enjoyed John H. Kampmann, Master Builder: San Antonio's German Influence in the 19th Century by Maggie Valentine. I learned a great deal and found it a fascinating read. Highly recommended.