“The various structures at Horseshoe Bay, even those of strictly functional purpose, are carefully designed to blend into the countryside.” (Texas Parade Magazine, January 1972) Cousins Wayne and Norman Hurd were the developers of Horseshoe Bay, and they hired a Dallas architecture firm to help execute their dream. Ronald Glen Bradshaw of The Architects Partnership worked closely with the Hurds to produce the timeless look of Horseshoe Bay that we all enjoy today. Ron died on October 11, 2012 at the age of 77 after a lifelong career of designing many public and private buildings nationwide. Let’s pause and reflect on the enormous legacy he left HSB.
Bradshaw graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in architecture and moved to Dallas where he and classmate George Newman formed Newman/Bradshaw Architects. He later joined The Architects Partnership and worked on several projects in the Dallas area, including collaborating with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Taliesin West on the Dallas Theater Center. He was hugely influenced by Bruce Goff, head of the architecture department at OU, and also Frank Lloyd Wright. One of his partners in The Architects Partnership, David George, studied under Wright and mentored Bradshaw.
Ron and his wife Caroline moved to her ranch outside of Burnet in 1993. Caroline’s great grandfather established the Duncan D Cross Ranch in 1887 and she still manages it. Ron designed their beautiful ranch home in a hacienda style, with a center courtyard and portals on either side. “Ron loved it here,” said Caroline. “He had a real affinity with nature and adored all animals. Once when I suggested extending our stay at our New Mexico home he said, ‘No, we need to get back. The cows don’t know its Christmas!’ If I couldn’t find him, I would know he was out walking or driving the land, or fishing in the stock tanks. I would sometimes look out the window and there would go Ron, followed by three dogs, two miniature donkeys and two cats-just like the Pied Piper! That was so touching-it didn’t matter what I was doing, I would go out and join them.”
Bradshaw designed both The Church at HSB and St. Paul the Apostle Chapel. He and his partners were the architects for the HSB Resort Yacht Club and pool, The Inn at HSB, the marina, the Waterfront restaurant, Slick Rock and Cap Rock club houses and Cap Rock pool, Whitewater, the original building that now houses the Resort spa, the stables, the clinic and the Frank King building across the street. He also made the original remodel design for Quail Point, which had been a hunting lodge. In addition to designing these major structures in HSB, Bradshaw worked with the Hurds on land planning and signage.
Bradshaw also designed the magnificent entrance to the 80 acre luxury development, Applehead Island, and the bridge to the island. His own description of the Applehead Island project is representative of his commitment to design structures that compliment their surroundings: “The project is located in the Texas Hill Country, a very rocky, rugged part of the country. Native stone was used to blend with the surroundings. Aluminum was used to provide a strong visual contrast. The area has a strong German historic influence which was the basis for many design elements such as metal roofing and the covered bridge. All materials were selected based on minimum upkeep.”
Ron Mitchell, Vice Chairman and President of Horseshoe Bay Resort, recently commented, “I first had the pleasure of working with Ron Bradshaw in 1975. He shared Wayne and Norman Hurd’s interest in the strength and beauty of natural rock and stone, and felt that these elements could be transferred into the architectural master plan of Horseshoe Bay. His designs never overpowered their natural surroundings because he believed that architectural design should blend natural and man-made elements into a harmonious whole.”
Among the many private homes Bradshaw built in his lifetime was Casa Angela in Puerta Villarta for friends, and several in Horseshoe Bay. While still a partner with The Architects Partnership, he designed both of the Hurds homes. Later, as a solo practitioner, he designed homes for Hurd relatives Charlie and Donna Sugg and John and Maryellen Richardson. During the design and building process, he and Caroline became lifelong friends to all of these Hurd family members. His daughter Leslie was married in the St. Paul the Apostle Chapel. He now rests in peace at the HSB Mausoleum, a structure he designed of local rock that sits in a wooded area beside Slickrock Creek.
Bradshaw had the ability to find creative use for materials others would discard. The 150 year old pine beams used in the stunning cathedral ceiling for the Bradshaw’s ranch home were found in an old warehouse in New Orleans. “The beams were so heavy it took a crane to lift them,” said Caroline. “He saw art everywhere. Several enormous tree roots were moved from our ranch to the Oriental Gardens, by the tennis courts in HSB. He also used some of the leftover aluminum ornamental design pieces from the Applehead Island entrance to make our front door.”
The home Bradshaw built for Norman and Dorothy Hurd, now called “The Peninsula” in HSB was one of Bradshaw’s most challenging projects. The home, at the tip of the 10 acre estate which has now been subdivided, has water views on three sides. “The kitchen cabinets were metal,” said Carolyn, “which was really beautiful and unique for the time. The living room revolved to face the fireplace or the lake. Going from room to room was almost like going through grottoes because of the lava rock walls, which were laid in as if the house was built around them.”
In spite of his architectural genius, Ron Bradshaw was a modest man. Kirk Dooley, a University Park writer, recently wrote a tribute to Bradshaw in the Dallas Morning News: “I sat down (in the Church at HSB) with my buddy, Ron Bradshaw, who was showing me around HSB one morning. After soaking in the view I finally spoke: ‘When I’m in this church and I look at that view I can feel the presence of God. This is really incredible.’ …he muttered, ‘Thank you.’ …I asked, ‘Why did you say that?’ He said, ‘Oh, I thought you knew I designed this.’
Bradshaw and his wife Caroline became close friends with HSB residents Curtis and Linda Neeley. Curtis commented, “Linda and I knew Ron for most of the 19 years we have lived here and during that time we became good friends with him and Caroline. He was intelligent and generous, and one of the most curious people I have ever known. His effort to satisfy that curiosity made him a very interesting person who could talk about almost any subject. Linda and I are fortunate to have been friends with him.”