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from From “Texas 50.” Texas Architect (Nov./Dec. 1989): p. 81.
John Garth York was born in Gainesville, Alabama in 1914 and attended North Texas Agricultural College and the University of Texas, earning in a BS Arch degree in 1940. On graduating he worked for the Texas Parks Board and in the architectural department of the National Youth Administration. York served in the US Air Force between 1943 and 1946. He worked for Olin G. Boese in Fort Worth in 1940 and 1941, and for G. Meredith and James Roger Musick in Denver from 1946 to 1948. In 1948, York moved to Harlingen. There he was associated from 1949 to 1955 with the Harlingen architect Walter C. Bowman and the San Antonio architect Bartlett Cocke in the firm of Cocke, Bowman & York. From 1955 until 1960 he practiced under his own name in Harlingen and Corpus Christi.
York swiftly attracted national attention with the inventive modern buildings that he designed. These responded lyrically to the climatic conditions of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and zestfully displayed their light-weight construction and technologically produced building components. Cocke, Bowman & York’s most publicized buildings included a series of elementary schools in Harlingen and Brownsville, the Lon C. Hill Memorial Library in Harlingen of 1951, the Little Creek Magnolia service station in Harlingen of 1953, and Klee Square in Corpus Christi, an office and retail center dating from 1954. York laid out the Harlingen subdivision of Laurel Park along the Arroyo Colorado, where he designed a number of dramatic modern houses, among them the McKelvey (1948), Ulhorn (1949), and Thise (1950) houses, as well as a celebrated house for his own family (1954). In 1951, the Ulhorn House became the first building in the Lower Rio Grande Valley to win an AIA design award. Cocke, Bowman & York and its work were profiled in the June 1955 issue of Progressive Architecture.
After the dissolution of Cocke, Bowman & York, John York continued to design distinctive modern buildings, notably houses in the Brownsville subdivision of Rio Viejo for Antonio Cisneros and Bernard Whitman (1955), the Fairway Motor Hotel in McAllen (1957), and the Narro-Sanchez Clinic in McAllen (1958). In 1960, York was appointed to the faculty of the School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, where he eventually became professor of architecture and dean (1962-1969). He remained in Norman and designed buildings in the Metro area until his death in 1980.
Cocke, Bowman & York, 1949-1955
Practiced on his own for the rest of his career
Projects in OK:
Cole Dental Clinic, Norman
American First Title and Trust Co., Norman
Field’s Restaurant, Pauls Valley
York House, Norman
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