Communion Of Dreams

Mid-Missouri master of Mid-Century Modern.

This past weekend the organization Historic City of Jefferson hosted their 10th Annual Homes Tour, featuring the historic architectural designs of Hurst John. Prior to the tour of homes, a presentation about the work and aesthetics of Hurst John was made by his daughter, Martha K. John. Martha is herself a registered architect, a member (and former state board director) of the American Institute of Architects, and serves on the Missouri State Board For Architects, Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors and Professional Landscape Architects. She is also my wife of nearly three decades.

Hurst John is widely considered to have been a master of what is now known as Mid-Century Modern design. His homes are highly sought and command a premium in the market. His designs have readily-recognized characteristics.  He was known for attention to detail and close supervision of construction. And his papers & architectural plans are collected at The State Historical Society of Missouri.

It was a fun event. Martha’s presentation about her father and his work was informal, relaxed, informative. The displays of Hurst John’s plans and sketches were a glimpse back in time, a chance to see how early consideration of natural lighting and use of recovered materials presaged modern passive solar and recycling efforts. And the tour of the homes was just a delight — it was the first time either Martha or I had ever seen the interior of any of these residences, and it was enjoyable to see how her father’s vision still remained after half a century of use and occasional renovations. I’m going to include a bunch of images from the event ‘below the fold’ under my name. Check it out if you would like to see some of what wasn’t covered in the links above.


Jim Downey


I’m going to leave all these images available in their full size, so if you would like to see more of any of them, just click on the image.

The flyer for the event:




The following also identifies some of the common design elements Hurst liked to use:


Some of Hurst’s plans, sketches, and elevations on display:







If you take a look at the two elevation images above (the ones which show the side-view of the houses), you’ll note that both designs include a small cupola on the homes. This was one of the characteristic trademarks of Hurst John. Well, here’s a pic of one of the actual cupolas on the houses we toured:


As I mentioned, Hurst was well known for his close attention to detail in his designs. One of the things he liked to include in his larger home plans was an integral intercom system (he liked all the most modern conveniences — another characteristic touch). But he didn’t just say: “put in an intercom in this, this and this room.” Nope. He specified *which* intercom system. And at least three of the five homes on the tour had this specific type of intercom:


Lastly, here’s a pic of Martha giving her presentation:


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

Very interesting! Since those were being built during our young married stage (married in 1955), especially relevant for me. What a thrill for Martha to be able to share examples of her father’s talents with others like this. Z

Comment by Sue Peeler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: