Butcher Ranch – Part One
Posted on June 26, 2014
We had a recent article on Houzz, where there was an immense amount of feedback; some on the house that I had designed, yes; but more so, on the client himself, Milton Butcher. Given the tremendous response, I wanted to take a moment to tell more of Milton’s story here.
After working for sometime on the East Coast, I was back in Texas and finally doing my first independent project, a simple remodel of an historic Tudor home in San Antonio. The client had insisted that I return to her previous home to measure her master bedroom cabinets, since they were exactly what she wanted. I arrived at the understated home built in the 80’s with a freshly painted bright Chinese Red door and was ushered back to the master bedroom to do my duty. There, lying on the bed with a cane at his side, was an old character in cowboy boots and pale blue work coveralls of the sort worn by Red Adair (a famous Texas oil well firefighter once played by John Wayne in the movie Hellfighters) contently watching the TV in the cabinet I was to measure. After straining to see his program past my measuring, he finally asked, in a very thick Texas drawl, “Do you do ranches?” I had, as a matter of fact, never done a ranch house before, but after my long stint on the East Coast I was itching to do a ranch house- the romantic architectural icon of my home state of Texas. “But, of course I do”, I calmly replied.
The 1927 painting Radiator Building — Night, New York by Georgia O’Keeffe
I spent the next couple of hours with Milton Butcher as he showed me his art from Ellsworth Kelly to Woody Gwyn and Georgia O’Keeffe. He talked about his world travels and showed me his own hauntingly beautiful photographs of the people and architecture of places like Bhutan, China and the Amazon. Story after story in a thick country accent peppered with humor and wit painted the scenes of his travels and friendships alike. After some time, he finally said, “I just recently sold a Georgia O’Keeffe from her New York years to a museum and I think I’m going to use the money to build a little ranch house. Would you be interested in being my architect?”.