Art: More Than Modern

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Ed blindfolded to the middle of Brooklyn Bridge, then gave him his first view of the New York skyline. Recalls Ed, "It was fabulous!" Later, he stood spellbound in the patio of Washington's Pan American Building, with its tropical courts, colored tiles and exotic macaws. "I decided that if architecture can be like this, then this is what I would really like to do," he says. "By the time I got back to Fayetteville, that hotbed of tranquillity, the die was cast."

Retaining the Sag. Leaving Arkansas for Boston without a degree, Stone threw himself into architecture with a drive and enthusiasm that would have rocked his old Fayetteville neighbors right off their chairs. He took a $10-a-week job as office boy in the office of dour Scots Architect Alexander Law, signed up for night courses at Boston's Architectural Club, was soon staying up all night to work through his problems, began winning first prizes.

Within a year Stone was working in Boston's top office, under Architect Henry Shepley, who recalls that "Stone from his earliest days had an extraordinary talent for turning a very commonplace design into a thing of beauty." One of Stone's first chores was to renovate Harvard's historic Massachusetts Hall, retaining the sag in the roof at Shepley's request, "so we wouldn't spoil the architecture." A year later, Stone was in Harvard's architectural school, the winner of a scholarship for gifted students.

Soul & Spirits. "It meant more than the professor to have Stone around," says Manhattan Architect Walter Kilham jr. "He contributed to everyone. He was the soul of the school." He also accounted for much of its spirits, gave such blockbusting parties on Prohibition bathtub gin that his fellow students began to say, "Ed Stone can draw anything except a sober breath." When Stone had completed two years of design courses in a single year, and found that he would have to concentrate next on engineering, he threw his slide rule on the drafting-room floor (the architect who picked it up still treasures it) and announced that he was going off to M.I.T. to study with Prix de Rome Winner Jacques Carlu.

Stone has never regretted the hours he spent copying details from D'Espouy's Fragments de I'Architecture Antique. "Those great monuments of the past were an inspiration, not to copy, but to enrich your vocabulary. The Pompeian house and the romance of the classical-why, I harken to them even now."

At the end of his first year at M.I.T., Stone walked off with Massachusetts' top architectural award, the Rotch Travelling Scholarship, and was off to Europe for two years of touring and sketching the architectural masterpieces. When he stepped off the Berengaria back in New York in November 1929, he was 1) flat broke, and 2) convinced that the modern style he had seen abroad would sweep the U.S.: "It was an exciting time. People were jumping out of windows in New York, and the new Waldorf-Astoria was going up."

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