Roy Ellsworth Lane

One of the “go-to” guys for erecting temples to prosperity in Waco during the ragtime era (1900-18), was Roy Ellsworth Lane, who helped establish some of the earliest architectural professional organizations in Texas.

Though his structures would become well-known fixtures of Texan cityscapes, Lane spent the early part of his life in the Midwest. He studied at the University of Minnesota, where he earned degrees in architecture and civil engineering. He first practiced designing buildings in Kansas, but Lane relocated to Texas in 1907. After settling in Waco, he joined the Sanguinet and Staats architectural firm.

Lane quickly earned a reputation as a skilled architect. During the next thirty years, he designed numerous buildings in Central Texas, including the old Waco Public Library, the Hippodrome, warehouses and hotels in the business district, several schools for Waco public schools, as well as collaborating on the 22-story ALICO building, which continues to dominate the Waco skyline.

He designed courthouses in Bosque and Runnels Counties. He also designed local churches, some of which still stand, such as First Lutheran, and St. Francis on the Brazos Catholic Church. Lane’s talent can be seen throughout Waco in the number of local homes he designed for the captains of industry and other tycoons.

Much of his work can be seen, from his own portfolio, in the holdings of the Texas Collection at Baylor University. It contains sketches in his own hand as well as images shot by Fred A. Gildersleeve, the era’s leading commercial photographer.

An example of one commission is the Cottonland Castle, the stone edifice originally erected in 1890 by stone contractor John Tennant. Lane was brought in around 1910 to finish the work started at 3300 Austin Ave. When Waco’s cotton-based economy boomed, Tennant, who worked on the Provident Building and used the leftover stone on his own property, prospered as well.

That same year, Lane also designed the Flowers House (a recorded Texas Historic Landmark since 1998), 600 W. Third St. in Eddy. It was the home of local cotton-gin operator Felix A. Flowers (1870-1950) and his wife, Lucinda Mixson Flowers (1875-1949), a local social and civic leader. It is an example of the craftsman-style homes Lane mastered: the low-slung, one-story bungalows using native materials such as timber or stone, also incorporating arts-and-crafts-style light fixtures and stained glass as an integral part of the home’s wide-open floor plans. The house remained in the family of the original owners until it was sold in 1957.

Until the mid-1930s Lane lived in Waco at 520 North Fourteenth Street (see pin on the map). In 1936, Lane moved his practice to Dallas. Among his best-known works there were the Southwestern Motor Freight Bureau, the Haggar Slacks Company plant, and the Guiberson Corp. office building.

He also was the first state parks architect, an appointment he earned in 1934, after designing the facilities around White Rock Lake, in the Dallas area, for the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Lane was among the founding members of the Texas chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Texas Association of Architects and served as president of the TAA from 1918-19. In 1954 he was elevated to an honorary membership in the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Lane died in Dallas on Aug. 7, 1956, and was buried at Restland Memorial Park.

Images

Profile of an Architect

Profile of an Architect

Though he was not a Texas native, Roy E. Lane went on to become one of the most notable architects in the Lone Star State in the early twentieth century. He was among the founding members of the Texas chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Texas Association of Architects. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Boyhood

Boyhood

Lane was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1884. This image suggests that Lane™s family was sufficiently wealthy to be able to afford ornate dress clothes and individual photographic portraits. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Design Sketch

Design Sketch

Lane designed the family residences of many leading businessmen in Waco. Depicted here is the planned home of Asher S. Sanger, a member of the Sanger Brothers mercantile dynasty. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Roy E. Lane View File Details Page

Architect on the Move

Architect on the Move

Besides his work in Waco, Lane also designed courthouses in Bosque and Runnels Counties. In 1936 Lane moved his practice to Dallas. Among his best-known works there were the Southwestern Motor Freight Bureau, the Haggar Slacks Company plant, and the Guiberson Corporation office building. | Creator: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Huaco Club Design Sketch

Huaco Club Design Sketch

Unfortunately, many of Lane™s designs have been destroyed. The Huaco Clubhouse, a country club that served as a playground for affluent Wacoans, burned down in the 1920s. Other Lane structures no longer extant include the Waco Opera House, the State House Hotel, the Savoy Hotel, the New Katy Hotel, and the Archenhold Building. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Roy E. Lane View File Details Page

Bannister Design Sketch

Bannister Design Sketch

Lane is best known for his attention to architectural detail. His concern with proper form is demonstrated in this planning sketch for an elegant bannister. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Roy E. Lane View File Details Page

A Loyal Famous Friend

A Loyal Famous Friend

Lane™s renown as an architect earned him the attention of leading business figures and celebrities. Actor R. C. Easton gifted Lane this autographed photograph of himself. Depicted here in costume for the show Beside the Bonnie Brier Brush, Easton added the inscription “Loyally yours,” before his name. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Terri Jo Ryan, “Roy Ellsworth Lane,” Waco History, accessed July 27, 2017, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/90.

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