Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Thomas MacLaren |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||19 February 1863 |
|Died: ||4 December 1928 |
|Bio Notes: ||Thomas MacLaren was born on 19 February 1863, the youngest of the eleven children of John MacLaren, farmer at Middleton of Boquhapple, Thornhill, Callander, and was educated at the village school and at Stirling High School. In January 1880 he settled in London, living with his elder architect brother James Marjoribanks MacLaren at his lodgings at 40 Montpelier Street. As his brother was not yet in independent practice he was articled to Wallace & Flockhart, William Flockhart having been a colleague of James's at Salmon Son & Ritchie's and at Campbell Douglas & Sellars's offices. He remained with Flockhart when the partnership was dissolved in 1881. |
MacLaren attended the South Kensington classes prior to entering the Royal Academy Schools in January 1882. There he had a very distinguished record, winning the Silver Medal in 1883, the Gold Medal (which he won with a design for a town mansion) and Travelling Scholarship in 1885 and these were followed by the RIBA's Pugin Travelling Studentship in 1887. The last of these was won with drawings made on a study tour in Scotland in the summer of 1883 and 1884. His obituarist remarks that he put in many hours of work to prepare entries for these competitions and suggests that this was detrimental to his health in the long run. The prizes he was awarded enabled him to travel in France and Belgium but his time was mainly spent in Italy where he stayed eight months from March to October in 1886. Shortly after his return he elected a member of the Architectural Association on 3 December. A second visit to northern Italy was made in April to May 1888, followed by a study tour of the Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire castles in August of the same year. Throughout that period he appears to have remained with Flockhart, but he is known to have assisted his brother's practice.
In October 1888 MacLaren became an assistant to Frederick William Stevens who had recently set up his practice after ten years' work for the Indian Government. Stevens's practice was mainly in Bombay but MacLaren is believed to have worked only in his London office. MacLarenthen commenced independent practice at 10 Great Queen Street, Westminster, London, independently of his brother in March 1889, but he does appear to have continued to help at his brother's practice, particularly with ship interiors. He shared his office with Charles Edward Mallows, a former colleague in Flockhart's office who had assisted his brother James from time to time.
In August of the same year MacLaren made a first visit to Switzerland and from 1891 he exhibited his own designs at the Royal Academy. He passed the qualifying exam in 1892 and was admitted ARIBA on 13 June, his proposers being Richard Phené Spiers, head of the Academy Schools, George Aitchison and Aston Webb. In these early years Thomas MacLaren's work was very similar in character to his brother's but with more explicitly Godwinesque details.
Thomas MacLaren began to develop the same early signs of tuberculosis as his brother James who had died in October. In February 1891 he too went to the Engadine in Switzerland in the hope of recovery and put his time there to some purpose in producing a splendid series of watercolours of Swiss architecture. But in the winter of 1892-3 he again became unsure of his condition and emigrated first to Denver, moving almost immediately to Colorado Springs where he recommenced architectural practice and was for a time joined by Mervyn Macartney who was also seeking a cure.
MacLaren became a naturalised American citizen in 1903, the year in which he designed the City Hall at Colorado Springs. His work there became more academic in deference to the tastes of his clients: two years later in 1905 he was commissioned to design Claremont for Charles Baldwin for which he returned to Europe to make a detailed study of the Grand Trianon at Versailles and make a brief visit home. His personal experience of tuberclosis caused him to take a particular interest in hospital design resulting in commissions for the Modern Woodmen of the World Sanatorium and The Craigmor Sanatorium both in or near Colorado Springs, the designs for which were more functional. Until 1920 he was in partnership with Charles E Thomas and he may have returned to Scotland in 1918-20 as he exhibited Claremont and the Pauline RC Church at Colorado Springs at the RSA in those years. When the partnership with Thomas broke up and they were in competition for the Colorado Springs Municipal Auditorium, built to MacLaren's design in 1923, MacLaren entered into a second partnership with Thomas Hetherington. This proved brief and MacLaren returned to independent practice. His office was then at 320 Hagerman Building, Colorado.
MacLaren never married and never had a household of his own, preferring to live at the El Paso Club. He was rarely seen without a cigar despite his record of respiratory problems. On 1 December 1928 he was admitted to the Glockner Hospital, Colorado Springs where he died on the 4th. His drawings are held by the University of Colorado, where he left a bequest to endow a department of architecture but htis did not happen until the 1960s.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Thornhill, Perthshire, Scotland||Private||1863|| || |
|25, Margaret Terrace, Chelsea, London, England||Private||1885|| || |
|3, Duke Street, Adelphi, London, England||Business||1885||1887|| |
|21, King William Street, London, England||Business||1889|| || |
|10, Great Queen Street, Westminster, London, England||Business||1889||1892|| |
|4, Barton Street, London, England||Business||1892|| || |
|El Paso Club, Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States of America||Private||c. 1900||1928|| |
|320, Hagerman Building, Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States of America||Business||c. 1923 *|| || |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
|The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date proposed||Notes|
|George Aitchison||13 June 1892||for Associateship|
|Richard Phené Spiers||13 June 1892||for Associateship|
|Aston Webb||13 June 1892||for Associateship|
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Calder, Alan||2003||James MacLaren: Arts and Crafts Pioneer|| ||Donington: Shaun Tyas|| |
|Calder, Alan||2007||Thomas MacLaren: the European Years||4||The James M MacLaren Society Journal, pp2-11|| |
|Calder, Alan||2011||Thomas MacLaren's student drawings||10||The James M MacLaren Society Journal, pp 2-15|| |
|Nevins, Ryan J|| ||Thomas MacLaren Architect 1863-1928|| ||Unpublished, copies in BAL and DMW archive; summary in CRM Society newsletter no 46 summer 1987|| |
|Withey, Henry F and Withey, Elsie Rathburn||1970||Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased)||Facsimile edition||Los Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc (originally published in 1956)|| |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|American Architect||25 March 1925|| || || |
|American Architect||5 January 1929|| || ||Obituary|
|Charles Rennie Mackintosh Soc. Newsletter/Journal||1987||no 46|| || |
|Pencilpoints||1926|| || ||pp711-726|
|RIBA Journal||9 March 1929|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects||p377|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Professor David M Walker personal archive||Professor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material|| ||Assistance from Alan Calder|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||A v11 p142 (microfiche 51/B4)|