Creature Comforts

When one thinks of writing their life story, visions of pen, paper and computers come into mind. For Brad Lacy, his story is told with brick, mortar and lots of love.
“It is the story of my life on these walls,” Brad said recently, scanning the walls of the new “man den” at his home at the corner of Locust Street and College Avenue. The home was built in 1924, and this room was one part of an addition started in 2012. Although it took some time, Brad said he has finally gotten the room just as he wants it – full of memories from childhood to his adult life as president and chief executive officer of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.
The most important part of his plan for the room consisted of having one solid wall for hanging special items. “I knew I wanted to hang a bunch of things that were meaningful to me,” he said. “And this has turned out better than I imagined.” He said he only has the family items in his collection because he was consistent in asking for items throughout the years.
Growing up in Ida (Cleburne County), Brad lived the life of a small town kid, and much of that time was spent with his grandfather, Zeb Lacy. “Both of my parents (Harol Dene and Maxine Lacy) worked, so I spent summers with my grandfather.” By association, Brad also spent time with his grandfather’s mule, Sam, who lived to be over 40 years old. “My Dad knew Sam when he was young and then I knew Sam,” Brad said.
Sam is well represented in Brad’s home. For instance, Brad commissioned a watercolor to be created from a photo his mother had taken of him and his granddad plowing in about 1976. The painting -- in shades of brown, gold and yellow – was created by Sean Shrum of Jonesboro. There are six pieces of art by Shrum in Brad’s home.
One of the last pieces Brad added to his collection was obtained last fall, and it was a surprise find. “I was visiting a cousin who lives on our family homestead, and I walked into my grandpa’s old corn crib,” Brad said. Behind the door he found a true family treasure – the collar that Sam the mule wore while plowing. The collar hangs in a place of honor, high on the wall in Brad’s new room. “It is so meaningful. I’m sure this is the one he was wearing in the photo.”
The next generation featured in Brad’s new room includes his Dad. “I can say this – he is a big deal in the fox hunting world. He has friends all over America, and we always had a ton of foxhounds. Many of them became my pets.” Not only does Brad have a painting of some of the foxhounds included in his room display, he also has hung up several of the horns that his Dad used to call his hounds.
A bittersweet but beautiful piece in Brad’s collection was created by his niece, Madelyn Johnston, daughter of T.J. and Rachel Johnston. Brad recalls “Uncle Brad date nights” with Madelyn, and in particular one in October 2012. “She sent me a thank you card and asked what I wanted for Christmas,” he said. “I said I wanted her to do a painting of a Kudu, my favorite animal.” Although she couldn’t believe that was ALL he wanted, she began her painting in earnest.
Sadly, Madelyn passed away 10 days before Christmas that year. However, her painting was nearly done. The missing parts -- such as the animal’s nose – are some of Brad’s favorite things about the painting. “It is the most meaningful thing I have in my place,” he said with a smile.
Other items that round out the collection include a photo of the columns of Old Main at the University of Central Arkansas; drawings of iconic Conway scenery; a watercolor of his own home; and a Vivian Noe original painting of a UCA Bear.
In keeping with the UCA theme, the walls of the “man den” are a neutral gray, and the en-suite bathroom has purple walls “because I always wanted a purple room.” The room also features stout wooden beams spanning the ceiling. This design was carried over from the older part of the home, which has coffered ceilings. Helen Lockhart helped Brad find just the right carpet and wall colors, and Luke Porter was in charge of the full addition, which took about six or seven months.
“I want to come in here and feel like I’m surrounded by the things I love,” Brad said.
“I live in this room.”