Harry Wild Jones was born in 1859 in Schoolcraft, Mich. He was the only child of a Baptist minister and moved often in his childhood as his father’s pastorate changed. Jones attended Brown University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked briefly as a draftsman in Boston before moving to Minneapolis in 1883.
In 1885, Jones started his own architectural practice with an office in the Lumber Exchange Building. Over his career he would design notable commercial, residential and ecclesiastical buildings.
During the early years of his career, he built numerous residential homes for a number of notable individuals as well as his own home at 5101 Nicollet Ave. Jones was one of the early residents of the neighborhood.
Jones advocated for bicycle races during the and generally promoted the cause of parks. His enthusiasm for nature and outdoor activities led him to run for Park Board in 1890. He was elected as a member that same year.
Jones designed two of , the first of which was the pagoda pavilion. Although the pagoda pavilion is long gone, one can get a sense of the shingle style and eastern influence from the Lake Harriet bathroom, which was designed to match the pavilion in style. It's still in use today.
After a fire destroyed the pagoda pavilion, Jones was called on to build a new pavilion. His next pavilion was designed in the Classic Revival style with a bandstand that resembled a Grecian temple.
Later in Jones’ career, his focus turned towards ecclesiastical buildings.
In Southwest Minneapolis, Jones designed the ’s memorial chapel, modeled after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The chapel features a domed, tiled roof that references Eastern Orthodox churchees Jones admired in his world travels.
Jones also designed three other spiritual centers in South Minneapolis: the Scottish Rite Temple (with Warren H. Hayes), Calvary Baptist Church and Judson Memorial Baptist Church.
Jones was known for his architectural work internationally as well as locally and designed churches and other buildings in Shanghai, Burma, and Canton.
In his retirement years, Jones designed Washburn Park’s water tower, which still functions today. The cylindrical domed tower is made from reinforced concrete and features sculptures by local artisan, John K. Daniels.
Although architectural contemporaries such as Cass Gilbert and Clarence Johnston Sr. often get bigger shares of the spotlight, there is no doubt that Harry Wild Jones greatly impacted architecture in Minneapolis and beyond.