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.

Late in 1890 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:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 8Middleton of Boquhapple, Thornhill, Perthshire, ScotlandPrivate18631879 
Item 2 of 825, Margaret Terrace, Chelsea, London, EnglandPrivate1885  
Item 3 of 83, Duke Street, Adelphi, London, EnglandBusiness18851887 
Item 4 of 821, King William Street, London, EnglandBusiness1889  
Item 5 of 810, Great Queen Street, Westminster, London, EnglandBusiness18891892 
Item 6 of 84, Barton Street, London, EnglandBusiness1892  
Item 7 of 8El Paso Club, Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States of AmericaPrivatec. 19001928 
Item 8 of 8320, Hagerman Building, Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States of AmericaBusinessc. 1923 *  

* 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 3Wallace & Flockhart1880 Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3William Flockhartc. 1881 Assistant 
Item 3 of 3MacLaren & ThomasAfter 19031920Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3George Aitchison13 June 1892for Associateship
Item 2 of 3Richard Phené Spiers13 June 1892for Associateship
Item 3 of 3Aston Webb13 June 1892for Associateship

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 111885Design for a Town House     
Item 2 of 111885Design for a Town Mansion    Won RA Gold Medal with this design
Item 3 of 111889Double cottageCrawley Down SussexEngland 
Item 4 of 11Before 1890SS Drummond Castle, ship interior    Colour decoration - probably while in office of his brother James Marjoribanks MacLaren
Item 5 of 11Before 1890SS Dunottar Castle, ship interior    Saloons and colour decoration - probably while in office of his brother James Marjoribanks MacLaren
Item 6 of 11Before 1890SS Hawarden Castle, ship interior    Saloons and colour decoration - probably while in office of his brother James Marjoribanks MacLaren
Item 7 of 11Before 1890SS Norham Castle, ship interior    Saloons and colour decoration - probably while in office of his brother James Marjoribanks MacLaren
Item 8 of 11Before 1890SS Pembroke Castle, ship interior    Colour decoration - probably while in office of his brother James Marjoribanks MacLaren
Item 9 of 111891OaklawnCrawley Down SussexEngland 
Item 10 of 111892Horne VicarageHorne SurreyEngland 
Item 11 of 1118931-11 George StreetDoune PerthshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 5Calder, Alan2003James MacLaren: Arts and Crafts Pioneer Donington: Shaun Tyas 
Item 2 of 5Calder, Alan2007Thomas MacLaren: the European Years4The James M MacLaren Society Journal, pp2-11 
Item 3 of 5Calder, Alan2011Thomas MacLaren's student drawings10The James M MacLaren Society Journal, pp 2-15 
Item 4 of 5Nevins, Ryan J Thomas MacLaren Architect 1863-1928 Unpublished, copies in BAL and DMW archive; summary in CRM Society newsletter no 46 summer 1987 
Item 5 of 5Withey, Henry F and Withey, Elsie Rathburn1970Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased)Facsimile editionLos Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc (originally published in 1956) 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 5American Architect25 March 1925   
Item 2 of 5American Architect5 January 1929  Obituary
Item 3 of 5Charles Rennie Mackintosh Soc. Newsletter/Journal1987no 46  
Item 4 of 5Pencilpoints1926  pp711-726
Item 5 of 5RIBA Journal9 March 1929 London: Royal Institute of British Architectsp377

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 Assistance from Alan Calder
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A v11 p142 (microfiche 51/B4)