Transcript of O'Neil Ford

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture and education.

In 1926, twenty-one-year-old O'Neil Ford began an apprenticeship in the Dallas office of architect David R. Williams. Ford had arrived from Denton lacking a formal education, but he possessed a keen eye for design, a talent for drawing, and the confidence and bravado of a showman.

As a young man, Ford had been impressed by the beauty and simplicity of the German vernacular architecture in Fredericksburg and Castroville. In Dallas, under the guidance of Williams, Ford began producing private residences and other structures that incorporated native materials and traditional crafts, with a sensitivity to natural setting and climate.

During his long career as an architect, Ford and his associates designed many notable homes, public buildings, and businesses in Texas and elsewhere. These include the Little Chapel in the Woods at Texas Women's University in Denton, the Tower of the Americas and Trinity University in San Antonio, and several buildings on the Texas Instruments campus in Richardson.

A champion of historic preservation, Ford decried architectural flamboyance and cliché. He was also a passionate advocate for education and the environment.  

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Ford to the National Council on the Arts. 

Ford died in 1982, but his ethic of simplicity, integrity, and restraint continues to inspire. "Architecture is scale and proportion," he often said. "The rest is décor."

More information about O'Neil Ford and other Texas Originals is available at This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.