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:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2176, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1878 *  
Item 2 of 2234, West George Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1888  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 9John McKissack1872Early 1890Partner 
Item 2 of 9William Gardner Rowan1872Early 1890Partner 
Item 3 of 9David Valentine Wyllie18751878Chief Assistant 
Item 4 of 9James Kerr18811885Apprentice 
Item 5 of 9John Campbell Turner Murray18821884Managing Assistant 
Item 6 of 9Robert Miller18821886Apprentice 
Item 7 of 9William Shanks18821886Apprentice 
Item 8 of 9Robert Miller18861888Draughtsman 
Item 9 of 9James McKissack1889Early 1890Apprentice 

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 36After 1872Brockley Presbyterian ChurchLewisham LondonEngland 
Item 2 of 361874Paisley Road Free ChurchKinning Park GlasgowScotland 
Item 3 of 361874Tenements, Douglas Street and Walker Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 4 of 361874Whiteinch Free ChurchWhiteinch GlasgowScotland 
Item 5 of 361878Bridgeton Free ChurchBridgeton GlasgowScotland 
Item 6 of 361878Pollokshields Free ChurchPollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 7 of 361878Tenement, East Clyde StreetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 8 of 361879Church at FairlieFairlie AyrshireScotland 
Item 9 of 361880Livingstone Memorial ChurchBlantyre LanarkshireScotlandBuilt for United Presbyterian congregation
Item 10 of 36c. 1880(?)Tenements, Findlay StreetDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 11 of 361881Business Premises, 252-256 Paisley Road West and 2-6 Harvie StreetPlantation GlasgowScotland 
Item 12 of 361881Tenements, Herriet StreetPollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 13 of 361882Finnart UP ChurchGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandWon competition to secure job
Item 14 of 361882Girvan Parish ChurchGirvan AyrshireScotland 
Item 15 of 361882Mure Memorial ChurchBaillieston GlasgowScotland 
Item 16 of 361882Renfrew Free ChurchRenfrew RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 17 of 361882St John's Wesleyan Methodist Church  GlasgowScotlandWon competition to secure job
Item 18 of 361882Zetland Free ChurchGrangemouth StirlingshireScotland 
Item 19 of 361883Bo'ness UP Church and hallBo'ness / Borrowstouness West LothianScotland 
Item 20 of 361883Greenbank Church and hallClarkston/Busby Glasgow/LanarkshireScotland 
Item 21 of 361883Independent ChurchGirvan AyrshireScotland 
Item 22 of 361884Ladhope Free ChurchGalashiels SelkirkshireScotland 
Item 23 of 361885Bo'ness Liberal ClubBo'ness / Borrowstouness West LothianScotland 
Item 24 of 361885Dunoon District Cottage HospitalDunoon ArgyllScotland 
Item 25 of 361885Scone UP ChurchNew Scone PerthshireScotland 
Item 26 of 361885Tarbert Parish ChurchTarbert ArgyllScotland 
Item 27 of 36c. 1885Cambuslang West Parish ChurchCambuslang LanarkshireScotland 
Item 28 of 361886Queen's Park Baptist Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 29 of 361886Strathbungo Parish ChurchStrathbungo GlasgowScotlandDemolished and rebuilt (incorporating gables of hall church by Wilson)
Item 30 of 361886Victoria Bread and Biscuit Works  GlasgowScotlandOriginal building
Item 31 of 361887McKechnie InstituteGirvan AyrshireScotland 
Item 32 of 361887St Martin's Episcopal ChurchPolmadie GlasgowScotland 
Item 33 of 361887Tenements, Duke Street and East Miller Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 34 of 361888Greenhead Sawmills  GlasgowScotlandMcKissack responsible for complete rebuilding, in collaboration with David Thomson
Item 35 of 361888Wynd Church Manse  GlasgowScotland 
Item 36 of 361889Wynd Church, Dr Still Medical Mission  GlasgowScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 1Walker, Frank Arneil1986South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew  p136

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 4Builder18 July 1924  Obituary
Item 2 of 4Builders Journal1 April 1963  Men who build series
Item 3 of 4Quiz21 September 1893   
Item 4 of 4RIAS Quarterly192411Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)Obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from Alfred G Lochhead and Alexander Wright