Page C1.1 . 23 May 2012                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Renovating Fay Jones

by Danielle Del Sol

While the work of a master painter or sculptor might be nurtured in climate-controlled galleries for centuries, the works of master architects are often lived in, worked in, enjoyed by crowds, exposed to the weather, and vulnerable to owners' whims. Architecture lovers can hope that their favorite structures are cared for by conscientious stewards, but aside from the use of preservation easements, there are few real guarantees.

Luckily for fans of E. Fay Jones, the designer of Thorncrown Chapel, at least one of the architect's prototypical midcentury-modern ranch houses in northwest Arkansas — the Joe Marsh Clark House — has fallen into skilled and caring hands: those of Tom King, a violinmaker, and his wife, Jill, an accountant.

The Kings relocated to the hilly, quaint university town of Fayetteville from their home state of Maryland in 2008 and were thrilled to purchase a Fay Jones original. The Clark House, built in 1961 on Mount Sequoya, a large hill close to the town square, marries the Organic-style and Prairie-style influences that Jones learned at Taliesin, under his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright, with native materials such as flagstone and vernacular inspirations from nearby farm buildings.

Virtually all stone and glass, the home is a midcentury modernist's dream, a cool 1960s ideal realized with the indigenous offerings of the Ozark Mountains.

Its layout was conceived as a blend of modernism and naturalism, tailored for its original owners, a geologist and a botanist. For example, the entire home has beautiful polished flagstone floors with the sole exception of a space in the living room that was left as soil, to be used as the ultimate planter.

The home was captured in a stunning series for House Beautiful magazine in 1964 by famed architectural photographer Ezra Stoller, and was also used in an ad campaign in The New Yorker that boasted about the "contemporary way of life in Arkansas."

Despite the Kings' enthusiasm for owning such a beautiful home, it became apparent to them soon after moving in that the house had some drawbacks.   >>>

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In Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Joe and Maxine Clark House (1961), originally designed by E. Fay Jones, recently underwent a sensitive interior renovation, part of which was designed by Jones's former colleague David McKee.
Photo: Danielle del Sol Extra Large Image

ArchWeek Image

Itself the result of an earlier renovation, the master bedroom of the Clark House is located just to the left of the home's front door, in an area that was originally a carport.
Photo: Danielle del Sol Extra Large Image


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