Monday, December 30, 2013

Photographic Ode to Bill Lightfoot


Bill Lightfoot by Ginger Sisco Cook
I had no idea when I decided to photograph the buildings Bill Lightfoot designed over the years that it would lead into the discovery of how his family is inextricably linked with the history and settlement of North East Texas and particularly Lamar County, Texas beginning about 1839.  You see, the Lightfoot family is what we call in northeast Texas to be “well connected”.  Just to do a little name dropping and to illustrate just how connected they are, some of the direct and auxiliary family names include Clairborne Chism, Sam Bell Maxey, Epps Gibbons, J.M. Campbell, Dr. J. F. Campbell, Young Burgher, William Bell, James Mallory, Frank Drake (F. D.) Mallory, Ewing Trousdale and Tom Howeth, and a family friend and neighbor, Sam Houston, just to name a few. 
Bill Lightfoot was one of the humblest men I have known.  You would never know his family were some of the original settlers, movers and shakers in and around Lamar County.  Bill's "aw shucks" reply when you tried to quiz him on his connections to Sam Bell Maxey and Sam Houston would leave you amazed at his down playing of his family's history and the connections to Lamar County. When I first began photographing the structures he designed, I thought I might write a book some day about all the connections between people and buildings but I doubt that will ever happen.  

Will Lightfoot
I would like to share with you a few bits of information about Bill's father, Will Henry Lightfoot. He was born in 1892 in Paris. His parents were Judge Henry William Lightfoot and Etta Wooten Lightfoot. Will attended Austin schools while his father served as Chief Justice. Will was a member of the first graduating class of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas in 1914.  He then attended Harvard for his graduate work in architecture in 1915.  In 1916, he came back to Paris to help rebuild after the Great Fire that devastated downtown Paris. Corneil Curtis and Thomas Broad also came back to work with Will. 

They left their mark of beauty and elegance on the landscape of Paris. One of their finest examples of work is the Paris City Hall and Fire Station designed in 1920.
Paris City Hall and Fire Station by Ginger Sisco Cook
I might add that Bill's mother was also a great influence on his life and education.   Hattie Bell Mallory Lightfoot was the first female board member for the Paris Independent School District.

Bill graduated from The University of Texas with a Master of Architecture degree on August 27, 1953.  After graduating, Bill returned home to Paris and joined his father's firm, The Will H. Lightfoot & Associates, Architects, of Paris, Texas, where he worked until he retired in 2006.  The firm was responsible for the design and restoration of almost 1,000 public buildings, commercial businesses, health centers, churches, and residences in Paris and the surrounding area, dating from 1916 to 2006.

A few of the firm's accomplishments over the ninety years of practice include the original structures of: Paris City Hall and Fire Station, Paris Junior College, St. Joseph's Hospital, McCuistion Hospital, UARCO Inc. Printing Plant, Holiday Inn, North Lamar ISD campus, A. M. Aiken Elementary School, Aerofit Fitness Center, Ruth Hall of Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Calvary United Methodist Church and the restoration of the Paris Community Theater, rennovation of the Lamar County Courthouse District Courtroom, the Paris Public Library addition, and Our Lady of the Lake  Catholic Church addition. I must also mention the Lamar County Courthouse District Courtroom renovation after it burned, the Market Square, the Paris Public Library addition, the Our Lake of the Lake Catholic Church addition and the Region VIII Service Center in Mt. Pleasant.
For Bill's retirement, I put together an exhibit of my photography of his work on Saturday, December 2, 2006.  The exhibit was at the Lightfoot Building at 12 First Street NE, Paris, Texas.  It was one of the  most fun and gratifying projects I have ever undertaken.  Bill and I would drive around Paris and he would point out the buildings and tell me stories about how they each came about.  We laughed a lot.  I should have recorded it and taken more notes. You never know when you will not have the chance to do something again.
Below are just a few of the images I have taken of the Lightfoot architectual firm's efforts.  

George Sunkel Home in Clarksville, Texas by Ginger Cook
Fry Gibbs Funeral Home Addition by Ginger Cook
Holiday Inn, Paris, Texas by Ginger Cook
Calvary UMC by Ginger Cook
A. M. Aiken Elementary by Ginger Cook
Aerofit Fitness Center by Ginger Cook

Ruth Hall, Holy Cross Episcopal Church by Ginger Cook

 Paris Community Theater Rennovation by Ginger Cook

Paris Public Library Addition 
I have a lot more images but I think I'll stop here.  What an amazing legacy to leave behind. Well done Bill Lightfoot.  Well done.

1 comment:

  1. Katherine Jenice ElizondoJanuary 2, 2014 at 1:37 AM

    Mr. Lightfoot was a kind and delightful man. I came to know he and Mrs. Lightfoot some time back. They were always hospitable and welcoming when visiting in their home. Paris, Texas was made a better place by a Christian man of ethic. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind. God bless Mr. Lightfoot and his family.


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