Gail Taylor Koozer standing amid family history at Living Rock Studios

Gail Taylor Koozer standing amid family history at Living Rock Studios

After Brownsville resident Howard Taylor’s heart attack and strokes in 1964, he had to retire from his work as a surveyor. His dear wife, Faye, cleaned houses to provide for their family of three daughters, and Howard began to create, to plan something to do with the rock specimens he had collected over the years. To quote the brochure for the studios, “Taylor and his family started building the Living Rock Studios stone by stone.” The building was completed in 1985, and Howard died in 1996, three years after Faye had passed on.

The events hosted December 7th, 14th and the last one on December 21st, are the result of the Taylor daughters and their husbands insisting that the dream not die. Daughter Gail Koozer says that her dad really hoped for 6 strong sons to help out, “and what he got was three scrawny daughters!” She recalled, on the second floor of the Studios, up in the branches of the Tree of Life, all the rock she and her sisters hauled and helped to place, and the concrete they mixed.

The Brownsville Times

The Brownsville-Times

First-born daughter Nancy is now living in their parents’ old house adjacent to the Studios, and has more time to promote the feature, which includes Bible illustrations formed from thin slabs of translucent rock, back-lit and absolutely beautiful. There is also Howard Taylor’s collection of paintings of Oregon birds, most life-size or greater. A collection of intricate wood carvings done by Mr. Taylor is featured as well, and everywhere, Oregon and family history is intertwined with geologic history. Take a flashlight with you to really enjoy the columns that support the building – they incorporate agate specimens of great variety. There is a center spiral staircase and a ramp that goes up the outside of the Tree of Life, so the second floor is accessible to all.

If not super-strong themselves, the girls each married men who are, and who also got caught up in the dream. Gail’s husband is currently perfecting an active solar heating system to coordinate with the passive system they already have in place. Nancy says, “It’s 60 degrees upstairs now, in the winter!” I recall watching Mr. Taylor knapping obsidian projectile points up there years ago, in August, and I believe the temperature was lower than that, at the time.

Last Friday night there were more than 30 people visiting, many from out of town. One couple was back for a visit; Dr. Ben Kenagy and his wife June dropped over from Albany. Dr. Kenagy had a medical practice in Brownsville years ago.

Friday night, December 21st, go see this incredible place – 800 tons of rock, at least. And don’t forget to examine the contents of about 100 Taster’s Choice coffee jars, embedded in the half-wall on the second floor, containing all kinds of artifacts and natural specimens. All of Brownsville caught the dream too – and saved the jars for Howard Taylor.

Written By Patty Linn for The Brownsville Times, published December 19, 2012.