Fay Jones Collection 1935-2005 (MC 1373)
Table of Contents
Euine Fay Jones was born in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, on January 31, 1921, to Euine Fay Jones and Candie Alston Jones. The family moved to El Dorado, Union County, where Jones grew up and where his father owned and operated The People’s Café for many years. Jones had two older sisters, both of whom died in childhood. Early in his career Jones used his full name, but Euine (pronounced “yu-on,” a Welsh form of John) was hard to pronounce and hard to spell. He decided to use only the initial E, and for most of his professional life he was known as E. Fay Jones. In 1990, Jones decided to drop the E and be known officially as Fay Jones, which is the name on the Gold Medal.
As a boy, Jones learned he had distinct talents for drawing and construction. He built tree houses and underground forts and “drew on everything.” In El Dorado, after seeing a film about Frank Lloyd Wright and his Johnson Wax Building, Jones came away determined to combine, as he said, “drawing and building.” When he enrolled at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1938, the only architecture classes offered were in the engineering department, so for two and a half years he studied civil engineering. He was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
When World War II began, Jones enlisted in the United States Navy. He attained the rank of lieutenant naval aviator and was a reconnaissance pilot in the Pacific. Before the war, in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Jones had met Mary Elizabeth Knox of Hot Springs (Garland County). Jones and “Gus,” as she is familiarly known, married while he was on leave in San Francisco on January 6, 1943. In 1945, Jones returned to Little Rock, where he worked as a draftsman for an architectural engineering firm. His talents were noticed, and he was encouraged to come back to the University of Arkansas in 1946 to enroll in the new architecture program started by John Williams. Gus and Fay Jones were by this time the parents of two daughters.
After graduating from UA in 1950, Jones was accepted into the graduate program at Rice University, where he finished his Master of Architecture degree in 1951. From 1951 to 1953, he held his first teaching job at the University of Oklahoma, working with the noted architect Bruce Goff. In 1953, Jones came back to Arkansas to begin his twin careers of teaching and practice. In 1966, he became the first chair of the architecture department, and in 1974, he was named the first dean of the new School of Architecture. He inspired and educated generations of Arkansas architects and lectured widely throughout the United States. In l985, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture awarded him the title of ACSA Distinguished Professor.
Fay Jones first met his mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1949 at the AIA Annual Convention in Houston, where Wright was to receive the Gold Medal. They met again at the University of Oklahoma, and Wright invited Jones to visit his Arizona studio, Taliesin West, during Easter of 1953. The next summer, Jones was invited to become an apprentice at Taliesin East in Wisconsin. Both Jones and his wife became members of the Taliesin Fellowship, returning annually for the next ten years, primarily to Taliesin West. Wright’s most lasting influence on Jones would be in the application of the principles of organic architecture: simplicity of construction, use of native materials, attention to crafted details, and seamless integration of building to site. In his own work, Jones reached new and original architectural conclusions with the innovative vertical use of glass and a strict awareness of the role of interior and exterior spaces of light.
Beginning in the 1960s, Jones employed a number of young architects in his studio, and he assembled a team of local builders, woodworkers, and stonemasons who worked on most of the buildings. The firm received over twenty national design awards and its work has been published in major architectural magazines in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The AIA gave Honor Awards to Thorncrown Chapel, Pinecote Pavilion at the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, Mississippi, and the Roy Reed House in Washington County. In 2000, the AIA recognized Thorncrown as the fourth most significant structure of the twentieth century. In 2006, Thorncrown was named to the AIA’s exclusive list of Twenty-five Year Award buildings. Jones’s personal achievements included winning a fellowship and two periods of independent study at the American Academy in Rome. In 2000, he was named by the AIA as “one of the ten most influential architects of the twentieth century.” He held honorary doctorates from Kansas State University, Hendrix College, Drury College, and the University of Arkansas.
Eight of Jones’s buildings in Arkansas are on the National Register of Historic Places: the Applegate House and Cooper Chapel in Benton County, Thorncrown Chapel, the Shaheen/Goodfellow Weekend House in Cleburne County, the Edmondson House in St. Francis County, and the Hantz House and Fay Jones House in Washington County. Other notable Jones houses in Arkansas include houses for members of the Sam Walton family in Benton County, the Pallone House in Pulaski County, the Orval Faubus House in Madison County, and the Alexander House in Washington County. Jones often designed furniture, lighting fixtures, and other crafted pieces for his buildings.
Fay Jones died at his home in Fayetteville on August 30, 2004. He had suffered from Parkinson’s and heart disease but continued to enjoy family, friends, and the world of architecture. He took up sketching again and filled many notebooks with lyric drawings of natural objects and abstract shapes. Following a private cremation, a memorial service was held on September 29, 2004, at UA near the J. William Fulbright Memorial Peace Fountain, which was his last design.
The Fay Jones Collection was donated by Euine Fay Jones and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Jones, in multiple accessions between 1997 and 2005.
The collection represents the life and work of a highly creative and successful American architect during the last half of the twentieth century. In 1990 the American Institute of Architects awarded Jones the AIA Gold Medal and his most famous building, Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas is included in the AIA list of the Top Ten Buildings of the Century. Thorncrown, the Jones’s own residence and the Dr. and Mrs. H.D Hantz residence in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the Shaheen/Goodfellow weekend residence (Stoneflower) on Eden Isle, Arkansas are on the National Register of Historic Places. Jones is known for his chapels, pavilions, and residential structures. The collection is a complete record of Jones’s teaching, his practice, his philosophy of architecture, and his skill as an artist.
Personal material includes biographical information from Jones’s childhood through his World War II service to his academic and professional associations and interests. Professional materials include a large series of project files generated by his office in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Jones began designing several residences in collaboration with other young architects in 1950. He opened his official practice, Fay Jones, Architect, in 1954. In 1977 it became Fay Jones and Associates, and in 1986, with his partner Maurice Jennings, the name was changed to Jones and Jennings. Materials documenting 226 building projects from 1950 to 1998 include correspondence, construction schedules, notes, sketches, reports, and product literature. Over 22,000 separate sheets of drawings illustrate the development of projects from conceptual sketches to presentation and construction drawings. Unmeasured line drawings of many projects can be found in Photo Mechanical Transfer (PMT) format. Over 20,000 slides and photographs record Jones’s architectural creations and travels. Recorded interviews and audio-visual items featuring Fay Jones discussing his work are in VHS and DVD formats. In the academic records, one can find early project ideas, lecture notes, class rosters, and University of Arkansas School of Architecture administrative records.
In addition there are numerous carefully kept appointment books, registration certificates, sketch books, and phone messages which provide details not found elsewhere. Printed resources include: posters from seminars and meetings, magazines that feature Jones’s work, clippings, and a portion of Jones’s own library.
Framed items in the collection were used in two exhibits: “Outside the Pale,” a retrospective of Jones’s entire career, presented at the Old State House in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1999 and “E. Fay Jones: Artist/Architect,” presented by the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2001. Three-dimensional items include 21 metal and wood details of design or construction importance. Six working models are in the collection, including: Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Thorncrown Worship Center in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista, Arkansas; Pinecote Pavilion at the Crosby Arboretum near Picayune, Mississippi; The Hermitage Chapel at the Little Portion Community near Eureka Springs, Arkansas (not built), and the Fraser/Chapman Chapel, originally designed for Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Fraser at Lake Lanier, Georgia (not built). Another version of the Fraser Chapel was altered and presented to Chapman University in Orange, California (also not built).
Acquisition and processing of the material was made possible by a donation from Don and Ellen Edmondson of Forrest City, Arkansas. Another donation from the Edmondsons produced four crafted display tables for the models, as well as a brass emblem for the archives door, Room 126 in Special Collections. Contributions for maintaining and expanding the collection are welcome.
Ellen Compton, Natalia Pizarro, Anita Mysore, Gretta Tritch, Callie Williams, Will Collins, Darby Gieringer, Derek Linn, and Emily Rogers, February 2009.
223 boxes, 113 drawers, 37 slide cases, 6 working models, 2 presentation boxes
Series I. Personal Records, 1943-1998
- Subseries 1. Early Records, 1943-1952 (2 boxes)
- Subseries 2. Personal Correspondence, 1951-1985 (3 boxes)
- Subseries 3. Personal Files about Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin, and Contemporaries, 1938-1991 (6 boxes)
- Subseries 4. Personal Project Account Books, 1958-1998 (1 box) RESTRICTED
- Subseries 5. Supply orders, magazines, and correspondence with magazines, 1962-1968 (1 box)
Series II. Professional Records, 1954-1998
- Subseries 1. Office Project Files, 1954-1997 (51 boxes)
- Subseries 2. Office Non-Project Files, Correspondence, 1954-2004 (8 Boxes)
- Subseries 3. Office Non-Project Files, Prospects and Inquiries, 1954-1997 (3 boxes)
- Subseries 4. Office Non-Project Files, Professional Organizations, 1950-2000 (6 boxes)
- Subseries 5. Office Non-Project Files, Appointment Books, 1966-1997 (15 boxes)
- Subseries 6. Office Non-Project Files, Telephone Message Books and Business Cards, 1972-1997 (4 boxes)
- Subseries 7. Office Non-Project Files, Licenses and Registrations, 1953-1994 (4 boxes)
- Subseries 8. Office Non-Project Files, Employee Records, 1967-1997 (6 boxes) RESTRICTED
- Subseries 9. Office Non Project Files, Stratton Lawsuit, 1979-1987 (2 boxes) RESTRICTED
Series III. Awards, 1950-1997
- Subseries 1. Award Nomination Books, 1950-1990 (7 boxes)
- Subseries 2. Awards, 1977-1997 (3 boxes, 1 Drawer)
- Subseries 3. AIA Gold Medal Award, 1989-1990 (5 boxes and 2 Wooden Presentation Boxes)
Series IV. Academic Records, 1951-1993
- Subseries 1. Correspondence, Classroom, and Administrative Files, 1951-1958 (7 boxes)
- Subseries 2. Lectures and Related Correspondence, 1964-1989 (5 boxes)
- Subseries 3. Juries, Competitions, Workshops, Advisory Councils, 1964-1997 (3 boxes)
- Subseries 4. Study and Travel, 1969-1993 (1 box)
Series V. Project Sketches and Drawings, 1957-2004
- Subseries 1. Sketches, 1957-2004 (6 boxes)
- Subseries 2. Project Drawings, 1954 – 1997 (106 Flat File Drawers)
Series VI. Images, 1937-2003
- Subseries 1. Photographs, 1937-2004 (22 boxes)
- Subseries 2. Slides, 1950-1998 (7 boxes, 36 metal cases, 1 Leather Case)
- Subseries 3. Photo Mechanical Transfers (PMTs), 1955-1993 (5 boxes)
Series VII. Oral and Visual Records, 1987-2005 (6 boxes)
Series VIII. Printed Material, 1954 – 2004
- Subseries 1. Posters and Archidek Cards, 1971-2002 (3 flat files drawers)
- Subseries 2. Magazines, 1954-2004 (31 boxes)
- Subseries 3. Clippings, 1950-2004 (3 boxes)
- Subseries 4. Books (5 shelves and 2 flat file drawers)
- Subseries 5. Product Catalogs, 1960-1997 (5 boxes)
Series IX. Exhibit Material, ca. 1980 – 2004
Series X. Art and Artifacts, ca. 1949-1998
- Subseries 1. Models, 1978 -1992 (6 working models)
- Subseries 2. Artwork, ca. 1955-1980 (1 Flat File Drawer)
Due to privacy issues, personal account books (Series I, Subseries 4), employee records (Series II, Subseries 8), and lawsuit materials (Series II, Subseries 9) are restricted.