I recently had an idea to map all of the Henry Whitestone and DX Murphy buildings in Louisville, the buildings that left a legacy for Luckett & Farley to be proud of. What I thought would take a couple of hours to compile quickly morphed into a fascinating research project that is seemingly unending. There were several times during this process when I thought, “if only we had the words from Whitestone or Murphy themselves, it would make the research much easier.”
It was then that I realized Jean D. Farley, whose name our company bears, still lives in Louisville today—so why not sit with him to get the story of his career in his own words? On August 31st, I had the esteemed pleasure of meeting Jean Farley for lunch at Buck's Restaurant, along with Brenda Shelton and Gail Miller of Luckett & Farley, to get his take on where he’s been, how he got there, and what he’s doing today. Here is his story.
The Early Years
Mr. Farley was born in 1927 and grew up in southern Louisville. His career and passion for architecture and design came while attending Male High School and taking drafting classes from his teacher, Mr. Turley for 2 1/2 years. After graduating, he went to Charleston, IN to work on the design of a rocket for Hughes Aircraft and Dupont. He was there for 2 months when he was drafted into the Army, eventually working his way to Ft. Lewis, VA as a basic training instructor. At the end of his 4 year military career in 1947, he had reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. Upon returning to Louisville, he solicited architectural firms in the area for a job as a Drafter. After reaching out to 6 or 7 local offices and being turned down, he was given a position at D.X. Murphy and Brothers who, at that time, was working on a massive project for the Federal Housing Administration to design 640 residential units on 13th Street. He was assigned the drafting table right next to Peter Murphy and was given the task of erasing sketches on media that could be reused for other drawings.
At D.X. Murphy & Bros.
When Mr. Farley started at D.X. Murphy, the hours were from 8am - 5pm and 1/2 day on Saturday, earning $0.85/hour. William O'Toole was President of the company, T.D. Luckett was 2nd Vice President, bookkeeping was done as single-entry accounting, and spittoons were available next to each drafting table. Farley described T.D. Luckett as “a true gentleman; was never angry at anyone” and “the nicest, most courteous, easy-going guy.”
In 1955, Eight years into his career, Farley was named Vice President following O'Toole's passing and later given 40% ownership, with 60% owned by T. D. Luckett. While still in the Louisville Trust Building (5th and Market), one of his first orders of business as Vice President was to install air conditioning units into the office. Before then, it would get so hot that sweat would drip onto the drawings, ruining them unless employees wore headbands.
By 1962, D.X. Murphy and Brothers officially changed its name to Luckett and Farley, Inc. Two years later, the name was changed again to Luckett and Farley Architects, Engineers, and Construction Managers and ownership was split 50/50 with T.D. Luckett.
This period of the Firm's history was much like it is today, with work consisting of State, Federal, K-12, higher education, and healthcare projects, even including a hospital project in—of all places—Mexico. Mechanical and electrical engineers were added to the practice in the early 1970's, not only for marketing reasons, but to improve quality and coordination between disciplines.
Be Progressive...cutting edge.
Mr. Farley's proudest moments in his career were when the firm received AIA awards for the Commonwealth Convention Center and for the East/West Wings at the Fairgrounds, both high profile buildings which are used and appreciated today. Jean Farley sold all of his shares in the company at the end of 1982 after 35 years at Luckett & Farley. He and his wife spend much of their time travelling, even to this day, and have visited countless countries all over the globe.
Jean D. Farley with Greg Buccola
- Mr. Farley is a pilot (even owned his own twin engine Cessna), was licensed in 12 states, served for 9 years on the board of NCARB, and was President of the West Kentucky AIA chapter in 1962.
- He met his wife while at Male High School, sharing the same streetcar with her to and from school as she attended Presentation High School.
- He and his wife have 5 children: Becky, Vicki, Janice, Jeff, and Alan.
- Mr. Farley’s mentor during this time was an architect by the name of Bill Netherton, who worked at D.X. Murphy & Bros in the late 1950’s. Most memorably, they worked together on a project in Conyers, GA.
- His advice for being successful today: "Be progressive" and do whatever it takes to be “cutting edge.”
- When asked how it feels to know the firm he helped shepherd to what it is today, he says he is "proud, very proud. It's amazing how many people know Luckett & Farley."