Tour Spotlights Mid-Century Beaumont A recent tour sponsored by Houston Mod, a design advocacy group, highlighted the residential architecture of Beaumont’s leading mid-century modernists. The day trip was the culmination of a series of events highlighting April as Modern Month, in which affiliates of the international DoCoMoMo (Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement) celebrated modern heritage locally and regionally. The April 30 tour, organized with the assistance of Beaumont art collector Tamsen K. Kiehnhoff, attracted 56 modern architecture aficionados, mostly from Houston but a few from Beaumont. The itinerary included houses – ranging from the late 1930s to mid-1960s – designed by Beaumont architects Douglas E. Steinman and Albert S. Golemon, Rex D. Goode Jr., Charles H. Thompson Jr., and James Flowers. In addition, the group saw houses by Houston architects Bolton & Barnstone and Wilson, Morris & Crain, as well as two buildings by the Austin firm Fehr & Granger, the superlatively maintained St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and the adjoining campus of All Saints School. The meticulous restoration of many of these houses attests to the pride their owners (primarily artists and art collectors) take in these examples of spatially inventive, precisely b e a u m o n t
Stops on the tour included the Smith-Kiehnhoff House (above), designed by James Flowers and completed in 1959; and the Goode-Haynes House (below) from 1958 by D. Rex Goode Jr. The mural is by Beaumont artist Robert Madden.
crafted modern design. The tour concluded with a festive reception at Tam Kiehnhoff’s modern house, at which her husband, attorney Thomas N. Kiehnhoff, dispensed that iconic mid-century modern cocktail, the bone-dry mar tini. Joining tour par ticipants at the reception were modern architects Thompson, Flowers, and Milton Bell, AIA, as well as artist Robert Madden. O t her e vent s du r i n g Moder n Mont h included a series of talks on the history of modern architecture in Houston. The series
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TOP PHOTO COURTESY HOUSTON MOD; BOTTOM PHOTO BY GERALD MOORHEAD, FAIA
was co-sponsored by Houston Mod in collaboration with the annual Houston Modern Market. Presentations featured collector Don Emmite speaking on the designs of Russel Wright, art dealer William Reaves speaking on mid-century modern artists in Texas, and William F. Stern, FAIA, speaking on the Houston buildings of Philip Johnson. In addition, Columbia University preservation professor Theodore H. M. Pr udon, FA I A, president of DoCoMoMo US, spoke at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on international efforts to preser ve sig nificant works of modern architecture. His address was given under the auspices of the museum’s Design Council, Houston Mod, AIA Houston, the Rice Design Alliance, the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, Preservation Texas, and the state chapter of the Association of Preservation Technology International. Prudon went on to speak before the North Texas chapter of DoCoMoMo in Dallas and the Mid-Texas Modern chapter in Austin. Houston Mod’s advocacy for modern design adroitly mixes education (lectures, exhibitions, publications), direct exposure (tours), and fun (house parties), a combination that appeals to a broad array of modernistas both within and outside the design professions. The Beaumont tour forcefully made the point that cutting-edge modern design was not the exclusive province of big city architects in Texas during the post-war era but was broadly distributed throughout the state.