Jones, Robert M.
(1921 – 2010)
Architect Robert Merrill Jones was born in 1921 in New York but grew up in the Tacoma area. Jones received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Washington (UW) in 1948. Upon graduation, he gained valuable experience working in the offices of Paul Thiry in Seattle and Robert B. Price in Tacoma (1951-1957). During his tenure with Price, Jones received his Washington State architectural license on September 20, 1952.
In 1957, Jones formed a successful partnership with fellow Tacoma architect Alan Liddle. Together, the firm designed a variety of noteworthy projects, many of which were featured in Sunset magazine. Projects include the Titus-Will Ford Center (1967) in Tacoma, Bothell Junior High School in Bothell, the Dr. Buel Sever House (1959), Dr. Tanabara House (1959), the Methodist Church in Lakewood, UW Hydraulics Building (1961) and UW Oceanography & Marine Sciences Building (1967), the Lundberg House (1960), several structures at Charles Wright Academy in University Place in Tacoma, St. John Hospital in Port Townsend, Seward Elementary School (1962) and the Owen Hughes House (1963).
In 1968, Jones and Liddle parted ways and formed independent practices. Jones’s practice focused mainly on residential projects. His first design after the partnership dissolved was the Kirk Hull Beach House (1969) which won an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Regional Award. Notable later projects include the Ray Graves House in Lakewood (1970), the Charles Evans House (1969) in Parkland, the Edward Lane House (1972) in Lakewood, the Brian McGuire House (1975) in Lakewood, the Dr. Benveniste House (1976) in University Place, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center (1975) in Illwaco, and Dr. Davidson House (c. 1972) and Dr. Krueger House (c. 1975), both in Olympia.
Jones’s own home in Fircrest was featured in the August 1955 issue of Living for Young Homemakers magazine. They called the $11,500 home “a shelter in the woods.” It was built to meet challenges of topography, the rigidity of tight budgets, and new patterns of living. The house featured plastic faced plywood panels on the exterior, cork floors, fir ceilings, and a variety of built-in furniture.
Jones retired in 1992 and passed away in Lakewood on October 9, 2010.
– Michael C Houser