David Webster George, FAIA (1922 – 2013)
A Letter from V. Aubrey Hallum, AIA Emeritus
David Webster George, FAIA
(1922 – 2013)
David George was an architect’s architect, a gentleman’s gentleman, a man without guile. David’s architectural accomplishments are numerous and many articles have been published about this architect and his architecture; therefore, I will tell you about the character of this man that I admired as much as his award-winning architecture.
I am fortunate to have known David for many years. We both established our practices in Dallas, had our offices in the same neighborhood and served on AIA Dallas committees together.
David worked for Harwell Hamilton Harris (My UT Dean of Architecture) in Fort Worth. He also worked for Charles Dilbeck in Dallas. My first house in Highland Park was a 1936 Dilbeck and many houses in H.P. were designed by this architect – whose clients apparently had raisins for eyes. (David and I shared this snide remark!)
In Fort Worth, David George established an architectural practice with Charles Adams – our Suzie’s Father-in-Law.
David had an affinity with the “Craftsman Style” – probably starting with his apprenticeship with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. But he was also influenced by many earlier architects who were leaders in the craftsman idiom. William Morris (the first) along with many followers such as Gustov Stickley, Green & Green, Irving Gill, Bernard Maybank, Richard Neutra, Rudolph Shindler, William Wurster and Harwell Hamilton Harris. David’s synthesis of architecture, nature and people, along with his intelligence and God-given talent, inspired him to develop an architecture of his own.
In 2007, the 75th Anniversary of Taliesin was held in Scottsdale, Arizona at Taliesin West. David invited his former partner, Ron Bradshaw, Jim Wheeler, his associate on the Hodge-Orr residence design, and lucky me to this celebration. The three of us were guests of our old friend, Gene Watson at his beautiful home in nearby Carefree, Arizona. Some of the memories I have of this terrific trip were getting to meet many of Wright’s former apprentices, enjoying a personal tour of Wright’s office and seeing the location where David lived during his stay at Taliesin (designed and built by David, complete with cactus and snakes on the beautiful Sonoran Desert).
David George was also an American’s American. He served as an artillery officer in WWII and the Korean “police action”. David’s love of America included our heritage and our God-given environment.
At age 90, David still called me to discuss ideas regarding our environmental assets and ways to protect, utilize and celebrate this wonderful heritage in an architectural idiom in lieu of Big Government’s misguided approach. Not only did this fellow architect think big, but as a complete architect, he understood and applied construction and structural knowledge in his designs.
With the understanding of architecture’s DNA, he and a chemist developed a plaster-type coating more flexible than standard stucco, combined with an environmentally friendly material called Fly Ash.
Finally, all who knew David and witnessed his character. Everyone could see that David was in total harmony with his Christian faith.
… “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4: 8-9
V. Aubrey Hallum, AIA
David Webster George’s memorial service was held at the chapel on the site of the first Christian meeting place in Dallas, County. Those who were fortunate to attend this memorial learned more about this man and his faith.
Additionally, the fellowship at the Hodge-Orr residence was the gift of a loving client. Many architects, friends and past clients met in this masterpiece, designed and executed by David George and our old friend, Jim Wheeler.
I personally appreciated getting to visit with many of my old Dallas colleagues and several of my young colleagues from Fort Worth. Our “sea stories” about David were virtually endless.
You young architects take heed! If you wish to become another architect’s architect, I know of no better example than David George.
(See Hodge-Orr House article in the July/August issue of TEXAS ARCHITECT)