Patrick Gallaugher crafted this table himself from long leaf pine salvaged from the old Kress “five and dime” store. (Rita LeBleu / American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, March 17, 2014 1:04 PMAt 88 years old, Patrick Gallaugher is the Lake Area’s longest-practicing architect. In 1950 he began with Dunn and Quinn, which became Dunn, Quinn, Gallaugher and Quinn in 1975. When the firm closed its doors in 1991, Gallaugher looked forward to doing the occasional design job. “I soon found out that it’s like a poker game, either you’re in or you’re out.” He’s in — working with Lake Charles Architect Randy Goodloe. Gallaugher’s firm gave Goodloe his first job.
The impact of Dunn and Quinn’s work can be seen across Southwest Louisiana, mainly in area schools. Gallaugher’s first school project was during the ‘50s, a time when the cleaner-lined, more functional approach to design was becoming popular. But H. A. Marton, Calcasieu Parish school superintendent at the time lived by the motto, “be neither the first nor the last,” Gallaugher said.
Gallaugher responded by submitting two designs, a traditional and more contemporary version. He also got bids for both. When the contemporary design came in a couple of dollars less per square foot, it was the deciding factor. Henry Heights Elementary would not be traditional.
But the firm’s mark on public schools throughout the region, or any of its other buildings including the Magnolia Building and the First Federal Building on Lakeshore Drive, hint at the integrity of the design style of Gallaugher’s current home.
This tall, trim, Notre Dame-trained architect was influenced by the Craftsman style popularized by Charles and Henry Greene on the West Coast from the turn of the century into the early ‘20s.
When Patrick and Dot Gallaugher’s children — Patrick Jr., Kevin, Adele (Wallace) and Mike left the nest, the couple started fresh in 1990.
“We got rid of everything we hadn’t used in five years,” Gallaugher said. A few of Dot’s family heirlooms, which included Chippendale chairs, Royal Doulton Kurkwood china and a set of antique Dickens and Longfellow volumes made the cut. Using only furnishes that are dear — and used — is integral to the Greene and Greene philosophy.
There is no artifice in this 1,650-square-foot dwelling. It’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle, shielded by trees and other growth, incredibly close to a high-traffic area but seemingly in a world of its own. The backyard gently slopes down to Contraband bayou. “I didn’t want to disturb the contour of the earth. This is the ground that was here,” he said, standing in his backyard and pointing to the simple concrete block walls he built to support his home, giving it the appearance of almost floating. A redbud and Chocktaw plum tree bloom, a welcome burst of color after the dreariness of winter. The lay of the land is just as important as the floorplan for Craftsman-style enthusiasts.
You don’t have to be outside to enjoy the view. Windows along one wall of the open dining and living area are completely unadorned. Several doors open onto outside sitting areas.
The home is sublimely simple and somewhat rustic. The trellis entry way hints at the Japanese influence, which also characterized the work of Greene and Greene. In the summer it will be covered with Confederate Jasmine.
The lack of pretense and abundant woodwork, most with reclaimed lumber, gives the home the feel of something built long ago, while the simple lines and stark decor hint at modern minimalism.
The flooring is 11⁄4”-thick 5”-wide White Oak reclaimed from an old Lake Charles business, Davidson’s Sash and Door. The vaulted ceiling is beaded plywood. On the day of the interview there is a fire in the fireplace. The design of the mantle and the surround, (also made from reclaimed wood from Davidson’s, combined with the smell of the woodsmoke and warmth of the fire is a prime example of melding form and function.
In addition to building their dining table from longleaf pine salvaged from the old Kress’ five-and-dime, Gallaugher built the out-of-the-ordinary, space-saving and functional double door/bookcase that separates his office from the living area. In a nook in that office is a hidden ladder to access more books in shelves in the vault of the ceiling of that room.
All the space is utilized in the home without seeming to fill it up with the useless or even seldom used.
The hall is covered with family photos of generations from as far back as the couple’s grandparents to present-day photos.
Patrick Gallaugher’s father was F.V. Gallaugher. Gallaugher used the word “conservative” to describe the characteristic that he remembers most vividly about his father. “He thought it was terrible that the government spent more money than it took in,” he said. “He was a reader. He read all the time and had what he called his ‘minute books.’ Those were the books he’d read when mother said she’d be ready in a minute.” Gallaugher’s mother was Barbara Fitzenreiter.
Dot is the daughter of the Arthur and Annabelle Briggs Aberle.
Some of Gallaugher’s artwork is displayed in the entryway of his home. These are mostly watercolors of water scenes. Gallaugher grew up enjoying the outdoors (like the Greenes) and especially his outings that began on the lake almost right outside the front door of his boyhood home on Shell Beach Drive.*
“Architectural renderings are done in watercolor because it dries the fastest,” he said.
Gallaugher does pen and ink drawings, too, and discovered while he was still in school that his ability to do good ones often held more sway over his instructor’s grading than his ability to reproduce the assignment — a drawing of another architect’s work — exactly.
It was Lewis Dunn who first recognized Gallaugher’s interest in drawing while he was dating Gallaugher’s older sister, Katherine. Dunn began to bring the boy drawing materials. Gallaugher credits Dunn as the one person who has had the most influence on his life.
Dunn and Quinn, Architects, opened its doors in Lake Charles in 1935.
Gallaugher’s first job there, when he was a boy, was sharpening the pencils of the architects and engineers, using his pocketknife and a sand block. “I was promoted to erasing but didn’t fare so well at that,” he joked. “They had to find something else for me to do.”
At 18, Gallaugher joined the U.S. Navy to keep from being drafted. An invitation to enroll in officer’s training landed Gallaugher for a short time at the Berea College in Kentucky, which, Gallaugher said, was founded in the late 1800s by Congregationalists “to enrich the spiritual life of the mountain folk.” It was a school where tuition was earned by working in the inn or in the gardens. There was no drinking, dancing or movies when Gallaugher attended in the late ‘40s and only a lone Gazebo for cigarette smokers.
The Navy transferred him to Notre Dame as the war was winding down. That’s where he received his degree in January of 1949.
Despite offers from a Washington D.C. and Chicago firm, he never entertained the notion of working anywhere else but Lake Charles.
Gallaugher doesn’t offer his design and architectural opinions unsolicited, part of his upbringing and his personality, but when pressed, he answered a few direct questions.
In his opinion, great design begins with great clients. Not all home planners have been exposed to the endless possibilities for designing a home that’s one-of-a-kind. Some don’t want a one-of-kind home, but he “finds little nourishment in areas where all the homes look the same.”
His favorite Lake Charles property is the “old Shaddock house” which he describes as a Newport, R.I. classic.
He encourages clients to always consider themselves and their living style when designing a house. “Don’t worry about what will happen if you have a party of 40 people,” he said. Don’t worry what momma will think. Do what you want and do it with as little as possible.” Even if it has to be economical, it doesn’t have to be ugly.”
*Last week it was reported that the home in which he grew up, 711 Shell Beach Dr., was built by George Kreamer. Howard Deshotel informed the American Press that the home was built by Milo, George’s father.