One of Memphis's most significant Victorian-era architects, Edward C. Jones was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and educated there and in Northampton, Massachusetts. He began his career as an architect in Charleston in 1848. After serving in the Confederate army, Jones moved to Memphis in 1866, where he accepted as his first job the remodeling of the Brinkley Block of stores at Main and Monroe.
In partnership with Matthias Harvey Baldwin, Jones built the Woodruff-Fontaine House (1870), renovated the Goyer-Lee House (1871), and constructed Beale Street Baptist Church (1867-81). Extant Memphis buildings of his design include the main building at Porter Leath Children's Center (1875), First Presbyterian Church (1884), Second Presbyterian Church, now Clayborn Temple (1891), and the first skyscraper south of St. Louis, built for the Continental Bank (1895), now the D. T. Porter Building.
James Patrick, author of Architecture in Tennessee, notes that Jones's career spanned two eras. His first buildings in the Greek Revival style would have been produced using tools and techniques common to the sixteenth century, but by the 1890s Jones had made the transition to steel and rivets to produce skyscrapers. As Patrick notes, this situation is testimony to the versatility of architects like Jones and the rapidity of fundamental changes in construction.
Eugene J. Johnson and Robert D. Russell Jr., Memphis: An Architectural Guide (1990); Perre Magness, Good Abode: Nineteenth Century Architecture in Memphis and Shelby County (1993); James Patrick, Architecture in Tennessee, 1768-1897 (1981)