Waters, Roscious Newell (1899–1979)

By: Stephen Fox

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

Roscious Newell Waters, architect, was born on January 17, 1899, in San Angelo, the son of Bessie (Barfield) and R. C. Waters. He graduated from Main Avenue High School in San Antonio in 1917. He served in the United States Army during 1917 and 1918, then attended the University of Texas (1919–21) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his B.S. in architecture in 1923. During 1922 Waters worked for the Boston architects Maginnis and Walsh. In 1924 Waters settled in the newly established town of Weslaco in Hidalgo County, where his parents had moved. Water's father was a partner in the Kirgan and Waters Land Company of Edinburg and was involved in real estate development in the lower Rio Grande valley. There the building boom of the later 1920s was to provide Waters with numerous architectural commissions, and he was one of the few architects in the region who was able to maintain his practice through the Great Depression. Water's office produced work in the Mediterranean style during the 1920s and early 1930s, much of it designed with his associate Anton Heisler, Jr. During the later 1930s and into the 1940s his work tended to be in one of the American regional styles (especially the Monterey style) or of modernistic design. By the 1950s he and his associates Merle A. Simpson and James Ingraham Clark were producing modern buildings. Water's outstanding works include the Weslaco City Hall and Fire Station (1928), the Los Fresnos State Bank Building, Los Fresnos (1928), the Llano Grande Country Club, Mercedes (1928) and large houses for Larry F. Lightner (1936) and Dean A. Porter (1941) in Brownsville, Howard E. Butt (1936) and Guy I. Warren (1937) in Corpus Christi, D. Davenport (1936) near Mission, F. E. Knapp (1939) and J. E. Knapp (1939) in Weslaco, and Clayton Malone (1941) in Progeso. His firm was responsible for a large number of public school buildings throughout the valley designed between the 1920s and 1950s, auto showrooms for the Knapp interests in the valley and Houston, and the Hidalgo County Courthouse, Edinburg (1954); the State Tuberculosis Hospital, Harlingen (1955); and the Knapp Memorial Methodist Hospital, Weslaco (1962). From 1924 until 1926 Waters was in partnership with Harry L. Stebbins. During 1926 and 1927 he collaborated with the San Antonio architect Ralph H. Cameron on several projects, including the Mercedes City Hall and Fire Station (1927) and the Anderson Y. Baker House, Edinburg (1927). In addition to his architectural practice, Waters owned oil leases, grew cotton and citrus, and was one of the first cattle ranchers to introduce Brahman cattle into the valley. He was a member of the McAllen Country Club, the San Antonio Country Club, and the Rotary Club of Weslaco. Waters became a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923. He retired from architectural practice in 1962. Waters was a parishioner of Grace Church, Weslaco, of which he also was the architect. On May 15, 1928, in San Antonio, Waters married Clementine Anne Helene Mullere, a native of Luxembourg and a soprano who performed operatic roles professionally in Italy, Mexico, and the United States. They were the parents of two children. R. Newell Waters died in Weslaco in January 1979. He is buried in the Waters family plot in San Antonio Cemetery, San Antonio.

Ellis A. Davis and Edwin H. Grobe, comps., The New Encyclopedia of Texas (4 vols., 1929?). Houston Post-Dispatch, April 18, 1926. Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930).


  • Architecture
  • Architects

Time Periods:

  • Texas in the 1920s

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Stephen Fox, “Waters, Roscious Newell,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 25, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/waters-roscious-newell.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995