LAKE JACKSON — Raymond Burroughs is retiring from his career as a public architect, but it will be close to impossible for him to forget his work. He can’t leave his house without seeing a building he planned, designed and saw through construction.
The Clarion at Brazosport College, the college’s entrance and Corporate Learning Center, Lake Jackson Civic Center and Fire Station 1, Clute and Richwood city halls, Angleton Recreation Center and Freeport Riverplace are just a sampling of his notable works.
At 77 years old, Burroughs said his Architecture Etc. business is now closed to the public, but he’ll keep his office in downtown Lake Jackson as a space to paint, write, help friends with architecture needs and explore other hobbies.
“Whatever challenges my mind and keeps me occupied,” he said.
When studying at Louisiana State University, Burroughs said he had to pick a discipline from art, architecture and writing.
“I had to decide what would make the biggest contribution to society,” he said.
The architecture job also came with a paycheck, Burroughs said with a laugh. Burroughs became a registered architect in 1966 and earned a master’s in urban design from Rice University.
He worked in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana for a few years before Soar Corp. hired him to work on the Oak Forest and Flagridge Estates subdivisions in Lake Jackson, the latter of which he and his wife Pat live in today, Burroughs said.
When Burroughs was 33, a tumor at the base of his brain made doctors think he had only six months to live. He was told to write a will.
He promised God that if he lived through it, he would tell the world about miracles. He did survive it and learned to walk and talk again.
“It took me seven years to learn how to whistle,” Burroughs said. “I still can’t whistle very good.”
The tumor, surgery and months of recovery left him unemployed. He started designing buildings from his kitchen table.
On Jan. 1, 1976, Burroughs opened his Architecture Etc. business in downtown Lake Jackson, partly inspired by the fact his son was crying because he was hungry, he said.
“One thing led to another and we got all kinds of opportunities,” he said.
He’s always liked to work by himself or with a small group, so the fact he won some awards early on established his ability to work on major projects as the architect, Burroughs said.
It’s been fun to influence the way the community grows and watch it develop, he said.
Burroughs was always available when Lake Jackson worked on major projects, City Manager Bill Yenne said.
“You can see his work because it’s got a unique look to it,” Yenne said.
He’s not only a talented architect but also a good person to talk to, Yenne said. Yenne first met Burroughs when Burroughs served on a subcommittee to assess the impact of Highway 288, which was a possible future prospect at the time, he said.
Since then, Yenne and many others would call Burroughs to ask his opinion about anything, he said.
“He always had the interest of the community at heart,” Yenne said.
Burroughs has an appreciation of both the functionality and aesthetics when designing a new building, Brazosport College President Millicent Valek previously told The Facts.
“Raymond has been a big part of Brazosport College and has contributed so much to the campus’ beauty,” Valek said.
It’s hard to be a one-man shop, but Burroughs has done it well and hired good people who have gone off and become successful, Yenne said. He’s been integral to this area for quite some time, the city manager said.
“He’s been a fixture in town for all these years,” Yenne said. “Good for him. We’ve enjoyed working with him over the years.”
At 77 years old, the good Lord planned his retirement from public architecture to come now, Burroughs said.
Burroughs sees everything he and others do well, including his architecture, as a gift from God and an opportunity to help his fellow man, Burroughs said.
“You’ve left something of a legacy, but that’s not what it’s about,” Burroughs said. “That’s an incidental benefit of it. What it’s about is finding out what you do best and doing that best. That’s what I based my whole career on.”