UTSA Professor Maggie Valentine writes book on Kampmann legacy

Maggie Valentine

UTSA Professor Maggie Valentine and new book

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(March 11, 2014) -- UTSA architecture professor and historian Maggie Valentine has written a book that describes the history of Texas builder, architect and developer John Herman Kampmann.

Valentine's book, "John H. Kampmann, Master Builder: San Antonio's German Influence in the 19th Century" (Beaufort Books, February 2014), tells the story of an architect who made his mark on San Antonio with a number of familiar buildings.

Kampmann arrived from Germany as a young, highly skilled builder who left a promising career to find his future in San Antonio, Texas, which in the mid-19th century was a hot, dusty place that starkly contrasted to the high European civilization he left behind.

As San Antonio developed from mud-laden streets and adobe huts into a vibrant city of office buildings, streetcars and luxury homes, Kampmann's influence became more and more evident. Often referred to as "the busiest man in town," he changed the architectural face of the city he chose to settle in.

Valentine discovered Kampmann while she was designing a research project for one of her architecture classes. Based on her own research and the research of her students, Valentine brought to light a man of great influence in his own day, but who over time had receded into the lost pages of history.

Valentine's narrative transports the reader back to a time when San Antonio was about to experience enormous change, creating an opportunity for young John Kampmann to put his building and design skills to work. Interestingly, though San Antonio has grown into America's seventh-largest city, Kampmann's work is still evident in many office buildings and private homes including the world-famous Menger Hotel.

"Kampmann represented the young, German professional fleeing from European oppression, often with political ideals embracing social equality for all men," said Valentine. "Kampmann's individual initiative, even under the harshest of conditions, organized institutions for culture, education and hygiene. He personified the German ethos for dedication and hard work toward a goal to make life better and keep the German culture alive."

"Maggie Valentine's thoroughgoing account of the life and work of San Antonio architect John H. Kampmann adds an important chapter to the story of building in 19th-century Texas. Meticulously researched, lucidly written and well illustrated, it is a signal contribution," said Christopher A. Long, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Today, Kampmann's work is seen in such buildings as the Lone Star Brewery, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, St. Joseph's Catholic Church, street names, and many commercial buildings and residences downtown. Valentine's research includes unearthing primary sources and archival documents that have never been published before as well as more than 100 photographs and ground plans.

Valentine was born and raised in Southern California. She graduated from UCLA with a Ph.D. in architecture and urban planning. She has taught architectural history and planning at UCLA, California State University and Montana State University, and is currently a professor at The University of Texas San Antonio. In addition to her critically acclaimed book, "The Show Starts on the Sidewalk," she has been published in several anthologies on regional architecture and cinema history.

For more information, contact Felicia Minerva at 212-727-0222.