Richard Payne began this photographic survey of small Texas towns as a part-time enterprise–something enjoyable to do in his spare time out of nostalgia, curiosity, and a love of making photographs that reminded him of his hometown. The effort grew into a book that reflects today’s Texas small towns and the practice of architecture as a profession and an art.
The brief period between 1880 and 1930 was the golden age of architecture in Texas. The downtowns of small towns were built then, and since about 1950 there has been a general decline, not only in the architecture and infrastructure, but also in the cultural and economic fabric of life in much of rural Texas.
Looking closely at the architecture of some two hundred towns throughout every region of the state, Payne closely documents in beautifully detailed images the current state of our architectural heritage. For him, the art of architecture stems from both the practical need of civic development and from the dedication, hopes, and dreams of architects, builders, and their customers. “Could we learn and apply the lessons small towns offer us?” he asks. “Could we not have, with all our wealth, energy, and talent, buildings, neighborhoods, and cities in which the ‘spirit is cuddled, made serene, made at home with its fellow spirits, proud and happy?'” Payne’s answer, represented by the beauty of his photography and the passion of his writing, “is always yes.”