Frank Lorenzo Doughty (1930–)

Frank Lorenzo Doughty is an architect who worked with Edward Durrell Stone and E. Fay Jones and who designed several houses across Arkansas that were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Frank Lorenzo Doughty was born on June 21, 1930, in Memphis, Tennessee. Though his family owned a large plantation outside of Tunica, Mississippi, the family was by no means wealthy. During his childhood in Tunica, he first developed an interest in architecture when, in 1942, he watched the Tunica Methodist Church being built. A few years later, his family moved briefly to Robinson, Illinois, but eventually settled in Stuttgart (Arkansas County), where he spent his senior year of high school. There, he met his future wife, Suzanne Buerkle.

After Doughty graduated from high school in 1948, his interest in art led him to enroll at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. However, his time there was cut short by the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. Doughty enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at the Mountain Home Air Force Base in Mountain Home, Idaho, where he spent the entire war. During his time in Idaho, he was part of a psychological war unit that, unknown to him until later, was essentially a CIA Black Ops research program. To make extra money on the side, Frank painted icons on slot machine reels for a local business owner because the Idaho legislature banned the importation of new slot machine parts. Doughty had an additional side job painting murals on the back-bars of local drinking establishments.

In mid-1953, Doughty was offered $300 to be discharged early from the air force, and he moved back to Arkansas. Using the G.I. Bill, he started taking classes at Little Rock Junior College (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock), one of which was a drafting course. This course renewed his interest in building and design. He had heard about the newly created architecture program at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and made an appointment with the program’s founder, John G. Williams. Williams impressed and inspired Doughty so much that he immediately enrolled. Doughty was a quick study and proved to be adept at architectural design. In fact, Doughty was commissioned to design three residences while he was still a student at the university. The prominent Buerkle family of Stuttgart, the family of his fiancée Suzanne, commissioned all three projects.

Doughty’s design talent quickly made him one of the top students in his class, and after he completed his coursework, Williams sent him to work in the offices of internationally renowned architect and Arkansas native Edward Durell Stone. Doughty moved to New York to work in Stone’s office in the summer of 1958 and remained there until 1960. There, Doughty mainly worked on renderings for prospective projects, instead of working on the designs themselves. Some of the projects that he created presentation renderings for included a design for the National Presbyterian Church in Washington DC; the original design for the National Cultural Center in Washington DC (later renamed the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts); the World Trade Center in New Orleans, Louisiana; the Tulsa Civic Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and the Graduate Residence Hall at the University of Chicago. However, life in New York did not agree with Doughty, and in 1960 he returned to Arkansas, where he and Suzanne married. He then went to work for renowned Ozark modernist E. Fay Jones.

According to a few sources, Doughty was generally given a great deal of free rein on the projects he was assigned. However, the extremely high quality of his renderings also meant that he would occasionally be asked to create perspectives (a representation of an image as it is perceived by the eye) for projects that were assigned to others. Over the following four years, he worked on some of the most influential designs to be produced by the Jones firm during that period, including the Glen Parsons House in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties); Shaheen-Goodfellow Weekend Cottage in Eden Isle (Cleburne County); Sam and Jody Hunter House in Memphis, Tennessee; Underwood Building in Fayetteville; and Madison County Record Building and Faubus House in Huntsville (Madison County). However, despite the opportunities to work on large-scale commissions in his home state, Doughty left the Jones firm in 1965 and moved to central Arkansas in order to sit for his architectural licensing exams. However, Doughty got the date of the exam wrong and ended up having to stay in central Arkansas longer than he had planned.

Doughty’s extended stay in central Arkansas was actually his most productive time during his career in Arkansas. Between 1964 and 1967, Doughty received commissions for six buildings, over half of his whole body of work in the state. Shortly after the completion of the Ellis and Charlotte Williamson House in 1967 and his passing of the Arkansas Architectural Licensing exams, Doughty and his wife moved to Boca Ratan, Florida, where he operated a private practice until 1971. That year, they moved back to Arkansas, where Doughty took a position as a professor at the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. His final residential design in the state was in the form of a personal residence for himself and his wife on Mount Sequoyah, on the eastern edge of the city of Fayetteville. In 1993, Doughty retired from the university.

For additional information:
Toms, J. Mason. “Ellis and Charlotte Williamson House, Brinkley, Monroe County, Arkansas.” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at https://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/MO0191.nr.pdf (accessed August 11, 2020).

Williams, John G. The Curious and the Beautiful: A Memoir History of the Architecture Program at the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1983.

J. Mason Toms
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

Last Updated: 08/11/2020

Entry