What do a historic log lodge in Wyoming and the Bywaters Special Collection at the Hamon Arts Library have in common? As it turns out, both house unique collections related to a Dallas art studio, the Potter Art Iron Studios.

The Brinkerhoff Lodge in Wyoming is an exaggerated rustic cabin on the shores of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Zachary K. Brinkerhoff, Jr., owner of the Brinkerhoff Drilling Company, constructed the lodge in 1947 with the help of Wyoming architect, Jan Wilkings. The building features magnificent views of the Teton Mountains. It also houses a collection of rustic furniture designed by Thomas Molesworth, and fixtures and other iron works designed by Potter Iron and Ornamental Works. The Potter pieces at the Brinkerhoff include wall sconces, chandeliers, exterior lights, freestanding ashtrays, and fire tools. Each of them use Western-style design.


Drum pendant (top) at Brinkerhoff Lodge, Grand Teton, Wyoming.

The Hamon Arts Library’s Bywaters Special Collections holds the archives of the Potter Art Iron Studios. Its holdings include 1,745 shop drawings, layouts, and other related materials for the studios’ work from the 1920s to the 1960s. This collection, donated by Henry Potter’s daughter, Eva Morgan, has a number of drawings for Potter’s western-motif light fixtures from the 1940s, which are the ones Mr. Brinkerhoff selected for his rustic cabin in Wyoming.

Drum pendant (profile)

Henry Cornwall Potter (1892-1971) set up an iron workshop in his Dallas garage in 1922.  By 1924, his work was sold at Sanger Brothers Department Store in Dallas, and the business had expanded beyond his garage to become the Potter Art Iron Studios. Over the course of his career, Potter’s decorative ironwork was featured across Dallas at sites such as the Dallas Little Theatre, Southern Methodist University, Highland Park Shopping Village, and numerous other residences, businesses, churches, and institutions.

Drawing, double candle-style wall sconce, Brinkerhoff Lodge, Grand Teton, Wyoming
Drawing with profile, double candle-style wall sconce

These archival drawings for the Brinkerhoff works offer insights into how the drawings translated into the metal objects, and how motifs—such as the cowboy and horse motif—are used throughout the entire line of work. Additionally, the archival documents highlight the differences between the rustic aesthetic of the cowboy and horse theme and other works in delicate brass and gold art deco, which Potter also designed. The Brinkerhoff pieces feature western subjects, but the iron is hammered, giving it a rustic finish, which complements the motif.

Double candle-style wall sconce, Brinkerhoff Lodge, Grand Teton, Wyoming

Paired together, the drawings in the Bywaters Special Collections and the works at the Brinkerhoff Lodge present an opportunity to more broadly understand Potter’s works and process, and to understand the rustic high-style design at the Brinkerhoff Lodge.

The National Park Service, which preserves this site, acquired the Brinkerhoff Lodge from the Brinkerhoff family in 1955. The building and its furnishings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


Blog post contributed by Elizabeth Engle, Architectural Historian.
Featured image: Drum Pendant Light and Flush Mount Ceiling Light with Western Motif and Lantern Wall Sconce with Scrollwork Accents, Potter Art Iron Studios, ca. 1947, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library at http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ptr/id/1872/rec/1
Brinkerhoff images: Courtesy of Grand Teton, National Park Service.
Other images for Potter Arts Iron Studio drawings: Courtesy of Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library; Drawing of Double Candle-Style Wall Sconce with Cowboy and Horse Motif, Potter Art Iron Studios, ca. 1930s-1950s at http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ptr/id/1830/rec/4, and profile drawing of wall sconce at http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ptr/id/734/rec/12.