Creole Plantation Style Inspires Design of New Eye Care Building

Thomas Vision Center Named Best Small Business of 2008 in Leesville, LA


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Portland, OR “ July 30, 2009 Mark Cowan, OD of Thomas Vision Center in Leesville, Louisiana knew exactly what he wanted when the time came to build a new 4,000 square foot building to house his optometry practice. He envisioned a modern plantation similar to the style of A. Hays Town, prominent Louisiana architect of the 1960s remembered today for his residential designs. Town was influenced by the Creoles, people of French/Spanish and African American descent who created a diverse culture unique to southern Louisiana.

Inside ViewDr. Cowan engaged local building designer Dwane Bergeron, a specialist in the A. Hays Town style, to design the exterior. To allay his concerns about getting the functionality he needed for his practice, he called in optical design specialist Barbara Wright of Barbara Wright Design to design the interior.

Heavy timbers and woodwork plus brick archways and walls are found in nearly every Town interior. After careful study of a coffee-table photo book of surviving A. Hays Town designs, Wright decided to use just a few of the signature features that made his work so identifiable: high beamed ceilings, wood floors and cabinetry and brick archways. Today it is cost-prohibitive to reproduce all the hand-crafted details found throughout Town's original designs, but Bergeron and Wright were determined to create the look and flavor Dr. Cowan dreamed of without sending the cost beyond reach.

Translating the gorgeous look of hand-hewn wood, brick and plaster interiors into a functional and affordable modern office was no easy task, reports Wright. She worked with the architect to craft a floor plan that would provide the efficient patient flow required, but still allow the precise symmetrical window placement that was critical to the exterior look of the building.

Another Inside ViewAlthough the design looks back to the past for inspiration, it sports all the elements needed for the operation of a twenty first century practice, such as state of the art lighting in the optical dispensary. A covered drive-through window on the side of the building provides the ultimate in convenience for patients picking up replacement contact lenses.

The new dispensary features extensive woodwork for the optical display cabinets, crown molding and 10' thick ceiling beams. The golden cream color for the walls was lifted right out of the photo book by Wright for authenticity. Wide plank flooring covers the entryway and surrounds the reception area, but deep green carpeting was selected for the rest of the office to keep the budget in line.

A skilled bricklayer had to be hired to create the brick archways separating the front office area from the clinic area. Wright says that this was money well-spent because it's a feature immediately recognizable to locals as true to the original A. Hays Town style.

Dr. Cowan was pleasantly surprised at how well patients responded when he opened the doors. œOur current numbers suggest a 25% increase over the same time period last year, he says. He wasn't quite prepared for how quickly he had to hire new staff after moving in but confessed that œit's a good problem to have.

Thomas Vision Center proves that you can have the best of both worlds'”a modern and very functional optometric office that is rooted in the best traditions of its genteel Southern Louisiana setting.

Practice Owner

Mark Cowan, O.D.
Thomas Vision Center
1100 North 5th St.
Leesville LA 71446


Barbara Wright
Barbara Wright Design
1521 N. Jantzen Ave., Suite 379
Portland, OR 97217

High resolution photos are available upon request.

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