B A C K P A G E
Frontier Renaissance What might become the next Marfa, tiny Albany entices two more arts-minded transplants by DAN SEARIGHT, AIA
Rick Wintersole, AIA, collaborated with landscape designer Sarah Carr on the residential project just off the courthouse square in the up-and-coming destination of Albany. (left) The historic and recently restored Shackelford County Courthouse looms in the background. (above) A Queen Anne-style cottage from 1907 was moved from a nearby lot to house a café, art gallery and bed and breakfast.
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Stuart and Bacon hired Rick Wintersole, AIA, of Fort Worth, to design a residential compound that included a 1907 Queen Anne cottage relocated from a nearby church property. “The historic house claims the public corner and acts as counterpoint to the new design,” Wintersole explains. “The new buildings are located to create maximum courtyard space and the courtyard gates align to tie the project together.” The landscape design by Sarah Carr of Mark Word Design in Austin complements Wintersole’s buildings with fountains, gardens of native plants, and a herringbonepatterned terra cotta wall in the courtyard. In addition to the historic house, the 15,000-sf site encompasses Stuart’s 2,375-sf residence/office, Bacon’s 2,000-sf residence/studio, a 730-sf office lease space, a public courtyard, and several private courtyards. The architect sought not to replicate but to respect neighboring landmark structures and their visual fabric, texture, and scale while lending a modern individuality to the enclave. As a result, the exterior materials blend with the D’Hanis brick, Lueders limestone, stucco, and corrugated galvanized steel of the various buildings that line the nearby courthouse square. The writer has become well acquainted with Albany’s thriving arts and restoration scene through his wife, Mariana Green, who grew up on her family’s ranch outside of Albany.
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PHOTOS BY RICK WINTERSOLE , AIA
LONG-TIME FRIENDS AND FORMER BUSINESS PARTNERS Randy Bacon and Jim Stuart were both looking for a small town where they might live at a slower pace. They were attracted to Marfa and Fort Davis, but those locales were too remote. They considered several small towns within a few hours’ drive of Fort Worth, hoping to find one with a historic courthouse and a downtown square. Stuart wanted a quiet place to pursue his ambitions as a writer, while Bacon required an artist studio near the West Texas subject matter he paints. The former frontier outpost of Albany, about 30 miles northeast of Abilene, turned out to be the perfect location. Bacon was preparing an exhibition of his paintings at Albany’s Old Jail Art Center when he noticed a corner lot for sale just off the town square. “This is it,” he thought to himself. Only two hours from Fort Worth, Albany has the look and feel of far-west Texas and has become known for its progressive attitude toward the arts. Albany’s 1,759 residents also care about preserving their town’s heritage buildings. Several have been recently restored, among them two movie theaters, a drug store, the Masonic Lodge, and a 1920s-era Sinclair gas station. And, in June 2001, the Shackelford County Courthouse – completed in 1883 and designed by J.E. Flanders in the Second Empire style – had been rededicated following restoration by TWC Architects. The rusticated limestone courthouse stands at the center of a 14-block National Historic District.