Thomas, Roy Leonidas (1887–1968)

By: Christopher Long

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

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Roy Leonidas Thomas, architect, was born in San Marcos, Texas, on September 12, 1887, the son of E. L. and Kate Thomas. He attended the San Marcos public schools and during his youth worked part-time as a carpenter for several small San Marcos contractors. He attended Southwestern University in Georgetown from 1905 to 1906, and in the fall of 1906 entered the University of Texas, where he enrolled in the school of engineering. He left the university in 1908 and spent a year in San Marcos as a construction superintendent. In 1909 he took a job as a draftsman with Endress and Walsh in Austin, and worked on the firm's behalf in San Benito. He opened his own practice in 1911, specializing in the construction of residences. Thomas married Ruth Beaver in Austin in 1913; the couple had three children. During World War I, Thomas served as an architectural draftsman for the department of naval works in the Key West Naval Yards. He returned to Austin in 1919 and with the Stacy Realty Company designed and supervised construction of more than thirty houses in the Travis Heights section of the city. He also designed the Roy Bedichek residence, as well as numerous homes in the Hyde Park and Tarrytown subdivisions. During the 1920s Thomas worked as an associate architect for Sanguinet, Staats, and Hedrick (see SANGUINET AND STAATS), and designed or supervised the construction of a number of large projects in Austin, including First Methodist Church, the Texas Hotel (now the Stephen F. Austin Hotel), University Baptist Church, Hyde Park Methodist Church, Kirby Hall, Swedish Evangelical Free Church, and an addition to Pease School. He continued to design residences throughout Central Texas during the 1930s. Among the most notable of these is the Streamlined Moderne Herbert Bohn House (1938) in Austin, reportedly inspired by the science fiction movie Things to Come (ca. 1935). In the late 1930s, however, the focus of his practice shifted away from houses and toward churches, schools, and offices. During World War II Thomas supervised construction of a magnesium plant for the International Mineral and Chemical Corporation. In 1944 he formed a partnership with his son, William Thomas, and they practiced together through the 1950s. Important works from Thomas's later years include the Tarrytown Methodist Church and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, both in Austin. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects and served as Hill Country chapter president in 1935. He died in Austin on November 21, 1968.

Roy L. Thomas Collection, Architectural Drawings Collection, Architecture and Planning Library, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Architecture
  • Architects

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Christopher Long, “Thomas, Roy Leonidas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 19, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995