E. Fay Jones

(1921–2004) Architect

Euine Fay Jones was a renowned architect, most famous for designing Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, voted by the American Institute of Architects as one of the top five buildings designed by an American architect in the twentieth century. He designed two structures in Mississippi that recalled the features of Thorncrown Chapel.

Jones was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, on 31 January 1921. While still in high school, he saw a film on architect Frank Lloyd Wright and decided to follow in his profession. Jones enrolled in the University of Arkansas’s School of Engineering, since the institution had no architecture program. In 1941, after two and a half years of college, Jones became a US Navy pilot, and he fought in the Pacific theater during World War II. He married Mary Elizabeth “Gus” Knox in 1943. At the war’s conclusion, he reenrolled in the University of Arkansas, joining the first class of the newly created School of Architecture. While still a student, Jones met his hero, Wright, at the 1949 American Institute of Architects Convention. Jones attended graduate school at Rice University before teaching for two years at the University of Oklahoma, where he met Bruce Goff, who would become both a mentor and a friend. Jones reconnected with Wright and apprenticed with him both at Taliesin West in Arizona and at Taliesin East in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Jones then accepted a faculty position in the University of Arkansas’s architecture program, teaching there for thirty-five years and becoming professor emeritus in 1988.

Jones also set up a Fayetteville architectural practice. His earliest commissions were houses for university faculty. In the late 1950s Jones expanded his firm but chose to keep it small, concentrating primarily on domestic buildings in Arkansas and surrounding states. In the late 1970s Jones met a prospective client, Jim Reed, to discuss the possibility of a wayfarers’ chapel in the Ozarks outside of Eureka Springs, a resort town. The building that resulted, Thorncrown, brought Jones’s designs to national prominence and added a new typology to his body of work. He subsequently designed several more chapels in Arkansas and in Texas.

He also received two significant Mississippi commissions that emulate his chapel architecture. According to scholar Robert A. Ivy, Pinecote Pavilion at the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune “rivals Thorncrown Chapel.” The pavilion is a light and transparent structure whose columns and roof beams evoke the canopy of trees adjacent to the pond. The roof structure reveals itself toward the gable ends of the building so that its latticework seems to dissolve into the surrounding forest. The pavilion houses exhibition and educational space for the arboretum. The Pine Eagle Chapel at Camp Tiak in Wiggins is a small, pagoda-like chapel on the shore of a lake. Both Mississippi commissions were gifts in memory of L. O. Crosby Jr., with Pinecote Pavilion given by Lynn and Stewart Gammill and Pine Eagle Chapel by the Dorothy and Osmond Crosby Family. Jones also designed two private homes in the state, one in Clarksdale and one in Iuka.

Jones died in Fayetteville in August 2004.

Further Reading

  • Sheila Farr, Fay Jones (2000)
  • Robert Adams Ivy Jr., Fay Jones: The Architecture of E. Fay Jones (1992)
  • E. Fay Jones: Outside the Pale: The Architecture of Fay Jones (1999)
  • Fay Jones Collection, Special Collections University of Arkansas Libraries

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title E. Fay Jones
  • Coverage 1921–2004
  • Author
  • Website Name Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date June 7, 2020
  • Publisher Center for Study of Southern Culture
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 25, 2018