Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||McKissack & Rowan |
|Designation: ||Architectural practice |
|Started: ||1872 |
|Ended: ||Early 1890 |
|Bio Notes: ||John McKissack was born c.1844, the son of James McKissack, mechanical engineer and Janet McGhie from Girvan. He was educated at St Enoch's School but no further details are known of his training. |
In 1872 McKissack formed a partnership with William Gardner Rowan, who did most of the design work. Rowan had been born in Dunbartonshire near Duntocher c.1846, the son of John Rowan, a steam hammersmith at 534 Gallowgate. Although not mentioned in his nomination paper, Alexander McGibbon, his obituarist, recorded that he was initially apprenticed to a civil engineer, presumably 1860 to 1861, 'a course of instruction he afterwards advocated as a helpful training in accuracy of drawing and scientific building instruction…when text books were few and meagrely illustrated and schools of architecture practically non-existent'. In 1862 he was articled to George Penrose Kennedy for five years, a period which somewhat surprisingly made no allowance for his year or so as a civil engineering apprentice. He remained with him for a further two years as an assistant before returning to civil engineering as assistant first to the railway engineer James Fairie Blair in Westminster and then to Carruthers & Ketley in Glasgow.
Two years after the formation of the McKissack & Rowan partnership, on 9 July 1874 at 158 Hospital Street, Gorbals, McKissack married Helen Ronald, daughter of Alexander Ronald, master baker and Marion Black. Rowan was a witness at the wedding. They had five children: two sons James (born 1875) and Alex (born c.1877) were born in Glasgow, and a further son John (born c.1880) and two daughters Helen (born c.1883) and Mary (born c.1886) were born in Govan.
Rowan's earliest major works, the Free Church at Pollokshields and St John Wesleyan Church on Sauchiehall Street, were both neo-Greek of the Sellars' school, a choice determined by 'outside influence' in the case of the former, but thereafter his churches were either Gothic or Romanesque. The earliest followed English Early Decorated models, those at Galashiels and Girvan having tall Honeyman-like spires, but from 1885, beginning with his small church at Scone, he paralleled the work of J J Stevenson in reviving late Scots Gothic, sometimes with Norman detail, because, as McGibbon commented, presumably quoting Rowan himself, there was a considerable affinity between Scots 15th century Gothic and 12th century Norman, a theme that Burnet was also to exploit a few years later. Unique among Rowan's churches was the Wynd Free Church in which he made an altogether exceptional foray into American Romanesque of the H H Richardson School.
In 1889 McKissack took his son James into the McKissack & Rowan practice as an apprentice. Rowan had little taste for the 'shoddy' tenement side of McKissack's practice and early in 1890 the partnership was amicably dissolved, the partners continuing practice separately thereafter.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|176, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1878 *|| || |
|234, West George Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1888|| || |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architectural practice:|
|Walker, Frank Arneil||1986||South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew|| || ||p136|
|The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||18 July 1924|| || ||Obituary|
|Builders Journal||1 April 1963|| || ||Men who build series|
|Quiz||21 September 1893|| || || |
|RIAS Quarterly||1924||11||Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)||Obituary|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Professor David M Walker personal archive||Professor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material|| ||Personal information from Alfred G Lochhead and Alexander Wright|