Thomas Jefferson High School, San Antonio, TX
1885 - 1964

Carleton W. Adams

Born in Alma, Nebraska, Adams grew up in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1909, he returned to San Antonio to form the firm Adams & Adams, Architects, with his uncle Carl C. Adams. The firm got its start designing several residences for the San Antonio elite, including the Stowers House, the Walthall House, and the Baumberger House, all located in what is now the Monte Vista Historic District (where Adams’ father had developed the Laurel Heights subdivision). Following the economic crash of 1929, the demand for large homes lessened, and the firm began specializing in commercial and public structures, including the San Antonio Drug Company Building, the Kerr County Courthouse, and the Great American Life Insurance Building. In 1932 Adams’ firm designed the Spanish Colonial Revival-style Thomas Jefferson High School campus, which received national attention, having been featured on the cover of Life in 1938. He had also begun to experiment with Art Deco style, evident in his work on the Alamo Cenotaph in San Antonio and the Hall of State in Dallas, both in 1936. In the 1940s, Adams served as the campus architect for Texas A&M University in College Station, designing the Texas A&M Memorial Student Center, among other projects. He died of a heart attack while hunting on his ranch in Devine, Texas, and is buried in Mission Burial Park, San Antonio.