Life and Work of the Twentieth Century Louisiana Architect A. Hays Town

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This is the first thorough and substantive examination of architect A. Hays Town’s work. His 70 year career provides an ideal case study in the evolution of twentieth-century American architecture, spanning from a period dominated by Beaux Arts formalism, through a period characterized by the assimilation and acceptance of European Modernism, to a period once again receptive to traditional and regional influences. This examination reveals the remarkable talent and logic which enabled him to assimilate a wide variety of influences from his education and early career as well as influences from the historical examples of his region. It contributes both to an understanding of the potential use of vernacular traditions in general, and specifically, of the rich architectural influences present through Louisiana’s long and intriguing history. The study also includes a discussion of Town’s habits, values, and relationships, providing valuable insights into typical issues involved with the practice of architecture.


"Sachs (architecture, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan) has written this chronologically arranged story of the architectural career of A. Hays Town. Town was trained at Tulane University in the early 1920s, practiced in Mississippi during the decade of the Great Depression with a partner named Overstreet, and finished his career in Louisiana, working--remarkably--into the early 1990s. Town was trained in the beaux-arts method but accommodated himself to variations on modernism in the 1930s and 1940s, subsequently shifting to a more comfortable southern vernacular. The author briefly describes many of Town's buildings, giving readers the sense that Town enjoyed a long and successful career and left a legacy of good buildings, but as an eclectic never really developed a signature style. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; professionals; two-year technical program students." - CHOICE

“… a real contribution to our knowledge about the coming of modern architecture to the Deep South. This is an area that has for a long time needed first class scholarship….very revealing about American architecture from the 1930s to 1990s. It is a rich story that does not follow the usual modernist hegemony, but shows how modernism in many cases failed….his story is revealing and while he designed some wonderful houses, there are other works – doctor’s offices, etc., that are obviously done from necessity. These types of buildings and designs seldom make it into the books and hence it is nice to see a little treatment of what makes up the American landscape. In short, this is an excellent book….It will find an audience that is both academic, but also popular.” – Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor, Architectural History, University of Virginia

“David Sachs is to be commended for the rigor of his efforts to reveal his subject. Town’s education, his work, his era, and the character of his region all receive detailed treatment. His knowledge of Town developed over many years from one of academic study to deep friendship, yet he capably maintained the necessary critical distance from his subject so that we can be assured that Town is revealed in the light of unbiased truth…. As the full history of Twentieth century architecture is explored, such stories give clarity to the real struggles of architectural practice – the ones played out by the majority rather than the minority of chosen spokesmen celebrated in the modern history texts….Without this volume spanning the full career of the architect, a classic example of the realities of architectural practice and its compromises, successes and failures would be lost to history.” – Elizabeth Meredith Dowling

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface by Elizabeth Meredith Dowling
1. Background
2. Education
3. Internship
4. Overstreet and Town
5. Commercial Work
6. Town Style
7. The Architect
8. Conclusion
Bibliography; Index

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