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E s s a y P h o t o

Richard Payne’s Texas Towns b y T h o m a s M c K i t t r i c k , F AIA

In his most recent book, Texas Towns and The Art of Architecture: A Photographer’s Journey, Richard Payne, FAIA, chronicles beautiful examples of architecture in small, dying towns across Texas. At the same time, Payne’s images offer glimpses of the waning lives of people in those towns. Texas Architect asked Tom McKittrick, FAIA, to interview Payne about the underlying message he wanted to convey through the book’s black-and-white photographs and his essay that introduces them. Responding to fairly open-ended questions from his long-time friend, Payne touched upon some of those points. Excerpts follow.

“I have tried to communicate to anyone who will read the book that the American public in general knows virtually nothing about the architectural design process, or about the aspirations of virtually every architect to create a thing of beauty that also serves a variety of useful purposes. Those aspirations are no different from the typical person in any walk of life who wants to be the best at what they do.”

“The photographs in the book represent a time in the development of Texas when architects were able to command the respect and trust of elected officials and businessmen simply because of the reputations brought with them from points north and east. Few such clients were qualified to question their designs, but all were unflinching in their desire to create structures that were worthy of the citizens.”

Clockwise from top left: Atascosa County Courthouse, Jourdanton; First National Bank, Eddy; Prendergast-Smith Building, Mexia; downtown Calvert; downtown Granbury; Teague Hotel, Teague; and (center) Ingenhuett stores, Comfort


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