Basic Biographical Details

Name: Geddes & Capper
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: Late 1891
Ended: 1896
Bio Notes: Stewart Henbest Capper was born in 1860 at Upper Clapton in Greater London. His parents moved to Edinburgh when he was nine and from then he and his two brothers were educated at the Royal High School where he was dux in 1875. He then matriculated at Edinburgh University at the age of sixteen where he gained a First Class Honours in Classics in 1880 after studying for a session at the University of Heidelberg. Having chosen architecture as his profession he joined the office of J Burnet & Son, Glasgow in 1884, but a serious health condition forced him to accept later that same year a position as tutor to the only son of Sir Robert Morier, then British minister to Portugal and subsequently in Madrid, a post which was soon combined with that of private secretary. There he learned Portuguese and Spanish, studied Spanish architecture and made many lasting friendships. Still in that same year, 1884, he resumed the study of architecture by attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he was a pupil of Jean-Louis Pascal for four years. There he became a lifelong friend of Alexander Nisbet Paterson. Together with Frank Worthington Simon and John Keppie, whose stays were more brief, they shared rooms and made 'jaunts together en province' for sketching or refreshment with the other students after 'strenuous days and nights at the atelier and en loge'. After further travelling in Europe, Capper returned to Edinburgh in 1887, working as assistant to Sir George Washington Browne, which position he still held when admitted ARIBA on 8 June 1891, his proposers being John James Burnet, William Leiper and Richard Phené Spiers. He was then also working on his own account in partnership with Simon but by 1892 the partnership had been dissolved and he was in independent practice.

Sometime late in 1891 Capper had become associated with Professor Patrick Geddes - a biologist - who had founded the Town & Gown University Settlement with the object of creating staff and student residences within the Old Town of Edinburgh. This resulted in the Ramsay Garden, Riddles Court, James Court and Blackie House development. Geddes hoped to extend the concept to Glasgow and, probably at Capper's suggestion, wrote to John James Burnet who asked to see the Settlement's accounts before taking the matter further. Whilst involved in this work, Capper also took part in the work of the university, acting as examiner in the History and Theory of the Arts.

The association between Geddes and Capper ended in 1896 when a temporary breakdown in health induced Capper to accept the position of first professor of architecture at McGill University in Montreal for which he had been nominated by Professor G Baldwin Brown. It was believed his health could improve with the drier climate, and a condition of his tenure was that he could not practise at the same time, as the university was opposed to their professors operating in absentia. Sydney Mitchell completed the Ramsay Garden project, but Geddes then formed a similar association with the much older George Shaw Aitken who undertook the restoration of Lady Stair's House for Lord Rosebery at Geddes's suggestion and provided architectural advice on the projects on which Geddes was consulted.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness   

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 2Stewart Henbest CapperLate 18911896Partner 
Item 2 of 2Patrick GeddesLate 18911896Partner 

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 6189213-16 Ramsay Garden  EdinburghScotland 
Item 2 of 61892453-461 Lawnmarket, Robbie Burns Land  EdinburghScotlandRebuilding incorporating earlier fabric
Item 3 of 61892493-495 Lawnmarket  EdinburghScotlandRemodelling
Item 4 of 6189311-12 Ramsay Garden, University Hall  EdinburghScotlandTaken over by Sydney Mitchell & Wilson: Capper may have suffered from one of his frequent bouts of ill-health
Item 5 of 61893Riddle's Court and Close, 322-328 Lawnmarket and 5-6 Victoria Terrace  EdinburghScotlandRestoration and conversion to hall of residence
Item 6 of 61894Blackie House, Wardrop's Close, Lawnmarket  EdinburghScotlandRestoration

References

Currently, there are no references for this architectural practice. The information has been derived from: the British Architectural Library / RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914; Post Office Directories; and/or any sources listed under this individual's works.