Basic Biographical Details

Name: James McKissack
Designation: Architect
Born: 1875(?)
Died: 24 June 1940
Bio Notes: James McKissack was born in 1875, the son of John McKissack of the Glasgow practice McKissack & Rowan and his first wife Helen Ronald. He was educated at Allan Glen's School, and entered his father's practice in 1889 as an apprentice. After the dissolution of the McKissack & Rowan partnership early in 1890 James completed his apprenticeship with his father, attending Glasgow School of Art (from 1890 to 1894) and the Glasgow & West of Scotland Technical College under Professor Charles Gourlay. He remained with his father as assistant and was taken into partnership in 1900, the practice title becoming John McKissack & Son. About this time he made a study tour in Italy and France.

James was a member of the Glasgow Institute of Architects from 1907 and was admitted LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911. His father, who never sought membership of the RIBA, had a major operation in 1912 and died in 1915. James continued the practice under the same name thereafter, and from about that date specialised almost exclusively in cinema work, mainly for George Singleton. In August 1986 Professor McKean recorded his recollections of the younger McKissack:
'McKissack was a distinguished camera man who exhibited in New York. Because of his knowledge of photography, McKissack was used as a film booker for Cranston's Picture House. He was gentlemanly, and rather remote. He travelled a lot to Germany and Northern Europe, from which the inspiration of the Cosmo clearly derived. He did some other work notably an electricity substation at the bottom of Hope Street. He was a man of taste and refinement. The faience of the frontages of cinemas before the Cosmo was largely due to the influence of George Singleton, since it was good for wear and tear. Frontages always had to be clean and attractive. McKissack's office was in West Regent Street, an absolute dump, but with a large empty room at the front with a gigantic chest in the middle of the floor, into which he threw all the drawings without any order, and from which he had to retrieve them when necessary.'
Bruce Peter has established that he visited Hilversum to see the work of Dudok, from which the design of the Cosmo was derived.

In his last years McKissack worked in partnership with William James Anderson II, 'a quiet unassuming man who was not in the least commercial' and was an extremely accomplished designer. The practice title remained unchanged as John McKissack & Son.

McKissack married Isabella Somerville, daughter of the lithographic artist Thomas Somerville, at Burlington House, Glasgow on 30 October 1928; she died before 1938. McKissack died of heart failure on 24 June 1940 at 9 St Andrew's Drive; William James Anderson II on 18 January 1950.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 579, South Portland Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1891 *  
Item 2 of 5344, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1893 *  
Item 3 of 568, West Regent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 18991940(?) 
Item 4 of 59, St Andrew's Drive, Pollokshields, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 191124 June 1940 
Item 5 of 565, Renfield Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1923After 1939 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 4McKissack & Rowan1889Early 1890Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4John McKissackEarly 1890c. 1894Apprentice 
Item 3 of 4John McKissackc. 18941900Assistant 
Item 4 of 4John McKissack & Son19001940Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1John Bennie Wilson20 July 1911for Licentiateship - as President of the Glasgow Institute of Architects

Buildings and Designs

This architect 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 71After 1889Established churchBridgeton GlasgowScotlandAlterations - as assistant with his father
Item 2 of 71After 1889Wireworks for W Riddell & Co  GlasgowScotlandInitially as apprentice and latterly as partner of his father
Item 3 of 711893Two warehouses, King Street  GlasgowScotlandAs assistant with his father
Item 4 of 711898City Improvement Trust warehouse  GlasgowScotlandWon competition (100 premium) and secured job
Item 5 of 71c. 1898Dunoon Sheriff Court and County BuildingsDunoon ArgyllScotlandWon competition and secured job (initially as assistant in his father's practice and then as partner)
Item 6 of 711899RedhurstDunoon ArgyllScotlandAs assistant to his father, shortly before being taken into partnership
Item 7 of 711900Muslin Factory  GlasgowScotland 
Item 8 of 711900Restaurant and tea roomsLargs AyrshireScotland 
Item 9 of 71After 1900Clydebank West UF ChurchClydebank DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 10 of 71After 1900Shop, Kilmarnock Road  GlasgowScotland 
Item 11 of 71After 1900Warehouse and officesBridgeton GlasgowScotland 
Item 12 of 71c. 1900London Road UF Church hall  GlasgowScotland 
Item 13 of 711902City Improvement Trust warehouse  GlasgowScotland 
Item 14 of 711903LangavatKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 15 of 711903Strathclyde Public School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 16 of 7119044th VBSR Headquarters  GlasgowScotland 
Item 17 of 711905(?)Eastern Co-operative Drapery BuildingParkhead GlasgowScotland 
Item 18 of 711906Boden Street Factory  GlasgowScotlandAddition
Item 19 of 711907Boden Street Factory  GlasgowScotlandBlock on the corner of Nuneaton Street
Item 20 of 711908Dunoon District Cottage HospitalDunoon ArgyllScotlandNew hospital
Item 21 of 711908Sawmill for A Bowie & Co  GlasgowScotland 
Item 22 of 711909Parkhead Congregtional Church HallsTollcross GlasgowScotland 
Item 23 of 711911Eastbank Public SchoolShettleston GlasgowScotland 
Item 24 of 711912Business premises for J T Whitelaw's Trust  GlasgowScotlandWith Duff. Conversion to cinema
Item 25 of 71c. 1912Electricity Substation  GlasgowScotland 
Item 26 of 71Before 1914SCWS buildingsShettleston GlasgowScotland 
Item 27 of 71Before 1914SCWS buildingsBarrhead RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 28 of 71Before 1914Wellshot Road School  GlasgowScotlandAdditional block on Altyre Street
Item 29 of 711916Eglinton ElectreumLaurieston GlasgowScotland 
Item 30 of 711919Picture HouseCowdenbeath FifeScotland 
Item 31 of 711921La Scala CinemaHamilton LanarkshireScotland 
Item 32 of 711928Caley Picture House  EdinburghScotlandStained glass, mansard roof, palazzo wing and adjacent shops added
Item 33 of 711929Broadway CinemaShettleston GlasgowScotland 
Item 34 of 711929Kingsway Cinema  GlasgowScotland 
Item 35 of 711930Cinema for Renfrew Pictures LtdRenfrew RenfrewshireScotlandRebuilding
Item 36 of 711930Cinema for Riddrie Cinema LtdRiddrie GlasgowScotland 
Item 37 of 711930Ross Dairy Ltd premises  GlasgowScotland 
Item 38 of 711931Cinema, 19 Lawn StreetPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandReconstruction and addtions
Item 39 of 711931Hillhead Picture House  GlasgowScotlandReconstruction
Item 40 of 711931Picture HouseStranraer WigtownshireScotland 
Item 41 of 711932Boulevard CinemaKnightswood GlasgowScotlandon 'Gushet corner' - this probably relates to a different site
Item 42 of 711932Commodore CinemaScotstoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 43 of 711932La Scala CinemaGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandReconstruction
Item 44 of 711932Regal cinemaPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandPerhaps submitted scheme which was not executed?
Item 45 of 711932Vogue Cinema  DundeeScotland 
Item 46 of 711933Cinematograph HouseGorgie EdinburghScotlandRebuilding incorporating parts of old Cinematograph House
Item 47 of 711933Empire Cinema  DundeeScotlandReconstruction
Item 48 of 711933Mecca CinemaPossil GlasgowScotland 
Item 49 of 711935Carlton CinemaDickson's Park, Piershill EdinburghScotland 
Item 50 of 711935Cinema near Granton RoadGranton  EdinburghScotland 
Item 51 of 711935Cranston's Picture House and Tea Rooms, Renfield Street  GlasgowScotlandReconstruction, including alterations to rake of floor
Item 52 of 711935Embassy Cinema  GlasgowScotland 
Item 53 of 711935Embassy CinemaTroon AyrshireScotland 
Item 54 of 711935Picture HouseShawlands Cross GlasgowScotland 
Item 55 of 711935St Roch's RC School  GlasgowScotlandExtension
Item 56 of 711935Vogue CinemaRutherglen LanarkshireScotland 
Item 57 of 711936CinemaInveresk MidlothianScotland 
Item 58 of 711936CinemaSpringburn GlasgowScotlandAlthough 'Mackintosh' is given in 'Builder' it seesm much more likely that it is McKissack given that their address was 68 West Regent Street.
Item 59 of 711936Cinema, Hawthorn Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 60 of 711936Kyle CinemaIrvine RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 61 of 711936Picture HouseSpringburn GlasgowScotland 
Item 62 of 711936Regal CinemaMusselburgh MidlothianScotland 
Item 63 of 711936Vogue CinemaGovan GlasgowScotland 
Item 64 of 711937Aldwych CinemaCardonald GlasgowScotland 
Item 65 of 711937Tudor CinemaStockbridge EdinburghScotland 
Item 66 of 711938Baths, Leslie StreetPollokshields GlasgowScotlandProposal to convert baths into cinema
Item 67 of 711938Boulevard CinemaKnightswood GlasgowScotlandReconstruction as Vogue Cinema
Item 68 of 711938CinemaRenfrew RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 69 of 711938Cinema, Links StreetKirkcaldy FifeScotland 
Item 70 of 711938Cosmo cinema  GlasgowScotland 
Item 71 of 711938Riddrie Picture House  GlasgowScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4Post Office Directories     
Item 2 of 4RIBA1930The RIBA Kalendar 1930-1931 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 3 of 4RIBA1939The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 4 of 4Scottish Biographies1938  E J Thurston (pub.) 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Scotsman26 June 1940  p11

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Additional research (death location and addresses) by Iain Paterson
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v19 no 1435