Tour celebrates mid-century Tyler architecture
By JACQUE HILBURN-SIMMONSjsimmons@tylerpaper.com
A celebrated example of mid-century architecture goes on tour today as part of Historic Tyler's efforts to showcase modern home designs.
The member-only event kicks off from 6 to 8 p.m. at 526 E. Lake St., the former home of late architect E. Davis Wilcox that serves today as the home of Ray and Wendy Gallagher.
"We're really excited," Historic Tyler Director Cassie Edmonds said this week. "If the weather holds out we're going to have probably the biggest turnout we've ever had at one of these types of events. We've been receiving lots of calls and emails."
Annual memberships to Historic Tyler can be purchased at the door for $40 for an individual and $50 for a family membership. The organization is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of older structures.
"I would hope that people come away with an appreciation and an awareness of this type of architecture," Brandy Jones, a member of the Modern Committee, dubbed the Mod Squad, said.
Mid-Century modern refers to an architectural style popular between the 1930s and the 1960s, characterized by sleek lines and contemporary furnishings.
Many examples of the mid-century style features flat roofs, angular lines and spectacular interiors, organizers said.
"We are hoping for another event in October or November that basically brings a pretty relevant architect" into local consciousness, Ms. Jones, an interior designer for Studio B, said. "We're also planning a spring tour."
Wilcox was widely known in East Texas for his striking sensitivity to the natural environments, using large windows to capture abundant amounts of natural light.
Ms. Jones said she appreciates the style because it blurs the line between outside and inside.
"It embraces nature," Ms. Jones said, noting also the emphasis in those days for using natural and recycled products in construction.
The acclaimed architect's 1952 home is built of salvaged brick from an old Tyler fire station.
Wilcox is credited locally with designing the Tyler Museum of Art, Andy Woods Elementary School, John Tyler High School and about 70 homes, including his own.
"It's exciting to see more interest in mid-century modern architecture," Mod Squad researcher Carolyn Morales said. "It is historical in nature. There isn't a collective body of research that's been compiled yet."
Efforts are under way to seek out and document the various styles, categorized by some as "vintage" or "contemporary."
There are many wonderful examples of mid-century modern architecture in Tyler, but the Gallaghers' home is the first to go on tour, Ms. Edmonds said.
"One of our goals is to educate people about mid-century modern architecture," Ms. Edmonds said. "We also want to build enthusiasm for it."
The Gallaghers' home is packed with design flair: features lush landscaping, floor-to-ceiling windows, a plant-filled atrium and redwood built-ins.
"We think people will walk in and go, 'Wow,'" Ms. Edmonds said. "I'm expecting, at this tour, way more people than we first anticipated."
The couple describes the purchase of Wilcox's former residence as essentially, "love at first sight."
Gallagher said earlier he knew instantly upon entering the residence this was the place he wanted to call home.
His wife agreed.
"My husband and I have both always been into architecture," Mrs. Gallagher said. "We appreciate everything about it."
For more information about Historic Tyler, call 903-595-1960.