A friend sent me this article in the new-to-me Acadiana Advocate newspaper announcing an architectural exhibit focusing on the work of A. Hays Town, specifically his later “Louisiana Style” period after he moved back home from practicing in Jackson, Mississippi to Baton Rouge. Now showing at the Hilliard Museum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the exhibit, which includes six scale models of his houses, will run through the end of the this year and may warrant a road trip by MissPresers.
Town, who was born in Crowley, grew up in Lafayette and later established his practice in Baton Rouge. He died at age 101 in 2005.
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Emery said she is fascinated by how prevalent Town is in Louisiana, a region that keeps culture tied to place.
“He carries the same weight as Frank Lloyd Wright here,” she said. “He contributed to a culture for a very long time. It’s why he’s so relevant. His houses persist.
Before he perfected his Louisiana Style, he created some pretty great Modernist landmarks here in Mississippi, such as Bailey Jr. High School in Jackson, Church Street Elementary School in Tupelo, Bowmar Elementary in Vicksburg, Columbia High School–I could go on and on.
After he moved back to his native Louisiana, he still kept his hand in Mississippi and gave us some of his trademark residential designs, especially in Eastover here in Jackson. In fact, a tour of Town’s houses in Fondren and Eastover might provide a nice Mid-Century Traditional counterpoint to the Mid-Mod tours we’ve recently enjoyed.
Here’s some information about the Lafayette exhibit:
Jun 15, 2018 — Dec 29, 2018
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the original Art Center of Southwestern Louisiana, the Hilliard Museum is pleased to present an exhibition that marks the legacy of its designer, famed Louisiana architect A. Hays Town. The exhibition will be guest curated by architectural historian, Dr. Carol McMichael Reese, Professor in the School of Architecture at Tulane University, where Town studied.
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The focus of the exhibition will be Town’s residential architecture, for which he gained national renown. It will also showcase the evolution of Town’s work over more than 70 years of practice, from the Modernist designs of his earlier commercial and civic buildings to his later iconic residences, which were inspired by the historic architecture of the American South. A rich assemblage of drawings, furnishings, photographs, architectural models, and archival records will introduce visitors to his design approach, as well as his impressive career.
In his single-family houses, Town integrated historic motifs from a variety of cultural traditions, drawing upon French, Spanish, and Caribbean building techniques and details. He achieved sensuous patinas of age through his use of recovered materials from demolished buildings—including cedar beams, heart-pine flooring, and imported marbles—as well as antique furnishings and decorative fixtures. He arranged principal rooms to emphasize views toward the landscape and often worked with clients to design their gardens. His beloved and often imitated homes are evocative of the archetypal residential architecture of Creole Louisiana, indeed, a Louisiana Style.