Basic Biographical Details

Name: Ebenezer James MacRae
Born: 18 January 1881
Died: 15 January 1951
Bio Notes: Ebenezer James MacRae was born on 18 January 1881, 'a son of the manse'. His father was Alexander MacRae, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland and his mother was Annie Macrae, herself the daughter of another Free Kirk Minister. Somewhat surprisingly he was articled to the Roman Catholic Archibald Macpherson in 1899 and remained with him as draughtsman and assistant until December 1907. Macpherson, of whom he wrote in an affectionate memoir, was to remain a close friend for as long as he lived. During his time with Macpherson he studied at the School of Applied Art under Frank Worthington Simon from 1899 to 1904, concurrently attending Edinburgh University (1901-02) under Professor Gerald Baldwin Brown, and Heriot-Watt College (1901-07); from 1904 he attended the classes at the newly merged Edinburgh College of Art, including those in antique figure drawing, completing the course in 1906. During these early years he undertook sketching and measuring tours of York (1902 and 1904), Melrose (1904), Belgium (1905), Cambridge and Lincoln (1907) and Northamptonshire, Cambridge and Oxford (1907).

At the beginning of 1908 he moved to the office of John Kinross to spend six months assisting on his competition entry for the restoration of Kirkwall Cathedral, thereafter accepting a salaried post in the City Architect's Department under James Anderson Williamson. The following year, in collaboration with William Davidson who had been a fellow draughtsman in Macpherson's office, he exhibited designs for the furnishing and restoration of two Norfolk churches at the Royal Scottish Academy. Further collaborative designs were exhibited in 1911 and 1919, but the association between Davidson and MacRae appears to have been a loose one, as there is no evidence of a formal partnership having existed. He made additional tours of Paris in 1909, York in 1911, Norfolk in 1912 and Normandy in 1913. Surviving notes from this time show MacRae's interest in ecclesiastical architecture.

MacRae was admitted LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911, proposed by James Bow Dunn and the Edinburgh Architectural Association; but with characteristic determination he passed the qualifying exam in 1914 and was admitted ARIBA late that year, his proposers this time being Macpherson, John Watson, one of the teachers at the School of Applied Art and at Edinburgh College of Art and Alexander Lorne Campbell.

In the First World War MacRae served with the Royal Engineers. He returned to the City Architect's Office in 1918, becoming Depute City Architect at some time prior to 1925 and succeeding Williamson as City Architect in July of the latter year. He was admitted FRIBA in 1934, proposed by Thomas Forbes Maclennan. Later that year he and Wilson were members of the Department of Health fact-finding team led by the Permanent Secretary John Highton which toured the continental housing estates in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Prague, Vienna and Paris. He compiled much of the analysis that appeared in the subsequent report which had a profound influence on local authority housing in the late 1930s.

MacRae was sympathetic to conservation, and would have perhaps reconditioned more buildings for housing if the subsidies available under the 1919 Act had continued. He renovated a number of Old Town buildings and where that was not practicable he rebuilt several facades in something similar to their original form. In his survey of the Old Town he was assisted by a newly qualified planner, William Dey, later of Gordon & Dey, and produced a policy report; and from that he proceeded to produce another policy document, 'The Heritage of Greater Edinburgh', which listed all the traditional buildings in the city which were worthy of retention, very much in parallel with the Marquess of Bute's lists for the country as a whole. A large collection of related papers is preserved in Edinburgh Central Library. His interest also extended to historic statuary, and he published an essay on the 'Lead Equestrian Statue of Charles II' in the Book of the Old Edinburgh Club.

MacRae retired in July 1946, but continued to be influential in a variety of fields, remaining a member of the RIAS Council until 1950. He had a particular interest in the Edinburgh Cripple and Invalid Children's Aid Society to which he gave generously of his time and money and was ornithologist, photographer and watercolourist, exhibiting at the RSA from 1915 until 1940. Several of the subjects record his travels in France c.1914 and Germany c.1930. John Ross McKay wrote of him that 'as an official he was easy of approach. His innate courtesy and charm of manner made it a pleasure to visit him...he was always ready to assist and never adopted the reserve of the official'.

He died on 15 January 1951 at the Deaconess hospital, Edinburgh, his home address then being Taprobane, Ratho. His wiife, Dorothy Craigie, survived him.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 59, Albert Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate After 1948 
Item 2 of 517, Braid Terrace Crescent, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1911 *  
Item 3 of 5Royal Exchange, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1930 or 1931 *1939 or after 1940 
Item 4 of 564, Frederick Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1934 *  
Item 5 of 5Taprobane, Ratho, Midlothian, ScotlandPrivate1950 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 7Archibald Macpherson1 June 18991903Apprentice 
Item 2 of 7Archibald Macpherson1903December 1907Assistant 
Item 3 of 7John KinrossJanuary 1908June 1908Assistant 
Item 4 of 7Edinburgh City Architect's Department (Edinburgh Corporation)June 1908c. 1914Assistantunder James Anderson Williamson, City Architect
Item 5 of 7James Anderson WilliamsonJune 1908c. 1914Assistantin Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 6 of 7Edinburgh City Architect's Department (Edinburgh Corporation)1918July 1925ArchitectDepute City Architect
Item 7 of 7Edinburgh City Architect's Department (Edinburgh Corporation)July 1925July 1946Chief ArchitectCity Architect

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 16Malcolm Murchison   Architectin Edinburgh City Architect's Office
Item 2 of 16Thomas William Leslie Dorrance19241929Apprenticein Edinburgh City Architect's Office
Item 3 of 16John Wright Ford1925After 1930AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 4 of 16Thomas Smith19251946Architectin Edinburgh City Architect's Office
Item 5 of 16Ion Victor Godfrey Hamilton Warner1926May 1928AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 6 of 16George Clark Robb19281936Architectin Edinburgh City Architect's Office
Item 7 of 16James Moffatt Aitken19281937AssistantTechnical assistant in Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 8 of 16Thomas William Leslie Dorrance1929After 1947Assistantin Edinburgh City Architect's Office; excluding war years
Item 9 of 16Robert Somerville Ellis19301940AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 10 of 16James Henderson1930After 1943DraughtsmanIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 11 of 16Alexander Garden Forgie1930July 1946 As Deputy Architect, in Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 12 of 16Peter Rice WhistonOctober 19301935ApprenticeIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 13 of 16Annie Nicol Turnbull (Mrs Hubbard)After 1932Before 1938Apprentice(?)Possibly assistant; working in Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 14 of 16James Archibald Tweedie1933 * AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 15 of 16William Gordon Dey19361937AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 16 of 16Elizabeth Fergus Comrie (Miss)September 1936July 1937AssistantIn City Architect's Office

* earliest date known from documented sources.


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 7James Alexander Arnott5 March 1934for Fellowship
Item 2 of 7Alexander Lorne CampbellLate 1914for Associateship
Item 3 of 7James Bow Dunn20 July 1911for Licentiateship - as president of Edinburgh Architectural Association
Item 4 of 7Thomas Forbes Maclennan5 March 1934for Fellowship
Item 5 of 7Archibald MacphersonLate 1914for Associateship
Item 6 of 7John WatsonLate 1914for Associateship
Item 7 of 7John Wilson5 March 1934for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 18James Moffatt Aitken8 March 1937for Associateship
Item 2 of 18John Shepherd Anderson7 July 1948For Licentiateship
Item 3 of 18Elizabeth Fergus Comrie (Miss)6 February 1939for Associateship
Item 4 of 18Eric Hutton Crosbee10 January 1938for Associateship
Item 5 of 18Thomas William Leslie Dorrance11 March 1947for Licentiateship
Item 6 of 18Robert Somerville Ellis12 February 1946for Licentiateship
Item 7 of 18James Macgregor Harvey7 May 1946for Licentiateship
Item 8 of 18Adam Bryce Kerr9 March 1936for Associateship
Item 9 of 18(Sir) William Hardie Kininmonth 6 April 1948for Fellowship
Item 10 of 18David Ebenezer Lang9 July 1946For Associateship
Item 11 of 18Alfred Hugh Mottram6 March 1939for Fellowship
Item 12 of 18James Allan Hugh Mottram (or James A H Mottram)12 December 1970For Associateship
Item 13 of 18George Clark Robb16 April 1940for Associateship
Item 14 of 18Stanley Patrick Ross-Smith14 December 1948for Associateship
Item 15 of 18Patrick McGowan Thompson10 February 1936for Associateship
Item 16 of 18Annie Nicol Turnbull (Mrs Hubbard)5 December 1938for Associateship
Item 17 of 18Ernest John Weir9 March 1936for Associateship
Item 18 of 18Peter Rice Whiston10 January 1938for Associateship

Buildings and Designs

This 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 1121903Our Lady of Loretto and St Michael RC Church, presbytery and hallMusselburgh MidlothianScotlandAs assistant to Archibald Macpherson
Item 2 of 1121907Kirkwall CathedralKirkwallMainlandOrkneyScotlandCompetition tender for restoration - as assistant to John Kinross
Item 3 of 1121909Church of St Agnes, rood screenCawston NorfolkEnglandDesign exhibited - in collaboration with William Davidson
Item 4 of 1121909Church of St HelenRanworth NorfolkEnglandDesigns for restoration - in collaboration with William Davidson
Item 5 of 1121909Gorgie Market, corn market, Corporation Slaughterhouse and police stationGorgie EdinburghScotlandAs assistant to James Anderson Williamson in City Architect's Office
Item 6 of 1121921Kilcalmonell Churchyard, War Memorial Gateway  ArgyllScotland 
Item 7 of 1121925Prestonfield Council Housing SchemePrestonfield EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 8 of 1121926Gorgie Market, corn market, Corporation Slaughterhouse and police stationGorgie EdinburghScotlandAlterations and Extension
Item 9 of 1121926Leith Public Washhouse, Junction PlaceLeith, Edinburgh EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 10 of 1121926Tram ShelterLeith EdinburghScotlandCity Architect
Item 11 of 112192787-89 GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotlandReconditioned tenement
Item 12 of 1121927Lauriston Castle, Stable Court  EdinburghScotland 
Item 13 of 1121927Portobello High Street and Rosefield Ave Council housingPortobello Edinburgh As City Architect
Item 14 of 1121927Portobello Power StationPortobello EdinburghScotlandMacRae design built, absorbing first section by Williamson. (In 1931 workshops and stores added)
Item 15 of 1121927St Margaret's ParkCorstorphine EdinburghScotlandLaid out park
Item 16 of 112192866 Grassmarket  Edinburgh Reconditioned tenement
Item 17 of 1121928Henderson Row Public WashhouseStockbridge Edinburgh As City Architect
Item 18 of 1121928Niddrie Mains Council housingNiddrie Mains EdinburghScotland 
Item 19 of 112192915-19 GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotland 
Item 20 of 112192940-42 Candlemaker RowOld Town EdinburghScotlandRestoration - as City Architect
Item 21 of 112192974-84 GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotlandRestoration
Item 22 of 1121929Block of buildings, GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotland 
Item 23 of 1121929Houses, Plainstanes Close, GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotlandRestoration - as City Architect
Item 24 of 1121929Niddrie Housing EstateNiddrie EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 25 of 1121929Old Harrow Inn  EdinburghScotlandRestoration
Item 26 of 1121929Public LibraryCorstorphine EdinburghScotland 
Item 27 of 1121929Richmond Place, West Richmond Street  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 28 of 1121929 or 193046-48 Candlemaker Row  EdinburghScotlandRestoration - as City Architect
Item 29 of 1121930sWarehouses, DalryDalry EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 30 of 1121930sWestfield TramwayGorgie EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 31 of 1121930100-110 Canongate  EdinburghScotland 
Item 32 of 1121930204 HousesSlateford EdinburghScotland 
Item 33 of 1121930221-229 Canongate  EdinburghScotland 
Item 34 of 112193024 HousesGilmerton EdinburghScotland 
Item 35 of 112193025-29 Simon Square, 1-8 Howden Street and 55-59 East Crosscauseway  EdinburghScotlandDemolition and rebuilding
Item 36 of 112193039-43 Candlemaker Row  EdinburghScotlandRestoration - interior renewed
Item 37 of 112193074-96 West BowOld Town EdinburghScotlandRestoration of Nos. 94-96
Item 38 of 1121930Arcade of St John's and St Cuthbert's churchyards  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 39 of 1121930Canongate Improvement Scheme  EdinburghScotland 
Item 40 of 1121930Clarebank SchoolLeith EdinburghScotlandPavilion
Item 41 of 1121930Corstorphine Improvement Scheme  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 42 of 1121930East Pilton Housing Estate, layout and phase 1East Pilton EdinburghScotlandEdinburgh City Architect - responsible for layout
Item 43 of 1121930Edinburgh Free Library  EdinburghScotlandAlterations
Item 44 of 1121930Garage at Cleansing Depot  EdinburghScotland 
Item 45 of 1121930Greyfriars Hostel  EdinburghScotland 
Item 46 of 1121930Housing, Easter Road, Dickson Street and Marionville Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 47 of 1121930Redbraes Council housingBroughton, Edinburgh EdinburghScotland 
Item 48 of 1121930Stenhouse Housing SchemeStenhouse EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 49 of 1121930Tollcross School  EdinburghScotlandExtension
Item 50 of 112c. 1930(?)50-54 Candlemaker Row  EdinburghScotlandShopfronts
Item 51 of 112c. 1930Gorgie Housing EstateGorgie EdinburghScotland 
Item 52 of 1121930SGifford Park Council Housing  Edinburgh City Architect
Item 53 of 1121931206-208 Canongate  EdinburghScotland 
Item 54 of 1121931Bangour Village Hospital, Nurses' HomeUphall West LothianScotlandExtension
Item 55 of 1121931Edinburgh Police boxes  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 56 of 1121931Leith Academy and Technical CollegeLeith EdinburghScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 57 of 1121931Leith PoorhouseLeith EdinburghScotlandConversion to Eastern General Hospital - as City Architect
Item 58 of 1121931Pavilion and house at Ferry Road Recreation Ground  EdinburghScotland 
Item 59 of 1121931Royston Mains Council Housing  Edinburgh  
Item 60 of 1121931St Anne's RC School  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect - part restoration, part reconstruction
Item 61 of 1121931St Cuthbert's Public SchoolGorgie EdinburghScotlandGym added - as City Architect
Item 62 of 1121931St Leonard's Nursery  EdinburghScotland 
Item 63 of 1121931St Marks, Warriston Council housingWarriston Edinburgh As City Architect
Item 64 of 1121931Tractor Shed, Balcarres Street Depot  EdinburghScotland 
Item 65 of 1121931Traffic lamps for Edinburgh T-crossings  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 66 of 1121931Transformer House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 67 of 1121931Transformer HouseNewcraighall EdinburghScotland 
Item 68 of 1121931WashhouseLeith EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 69 of 1121931Washhouse, Dumbiedykes  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 70 of 112193276 Morrison Street  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 71 of 1121932Balgreen Primary School  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 72 of 1121932Braidhills Golf Club, pavilion and tearooms  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 73 of 1121932Craigentinny Council Housing schemeCraigentinny EdinburghScotland1932 housing scheme by City Architect Ebenezer MacRae.
826 houses and 6 shops built in three phases bounded by Craigentinny Road, Loganlea Road and Restalrig Drive. A large Square at Loaning Crescent.
Layout planned by George Clark Robb - Loganlea area.
Item 74 of 1121932Craigmillar SchoolCraigmillar EdinburghScotland 
Item 75 of 1121932Edinburgh City Chambers  EdinburghScotlandExtension of High Street frontage with W & E wings
Item 76 of 1121932Saughton Golf Course Housing Estate (Whitson)Saughton EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 77 of 1121932School in Niddrie Mains TerraceNiddrie Mains EdinburghScotland 
Item 78 of 1121932Washhouse, Dalry  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 79 of 1121932Watt Institution and School of Arts  EdinburghScotlandExtension - blocks fronting the Cowgate - as City Architect
Item 80 of 1121933Barony Street, block of council housing on north west  EdinburghScotland 
Item 81 of 1121933Edinburgh Thistle Golf Club  EdinburghScotland 
Item 82 of 1121933Portobello Outdoor Swimming PoolPortobello EdinburghScotland'Development of Pool and Shelter'
Item 83 of 112After 1933Gogarburn Home for Mental Defectives  MidlothianScotlandTook over the project as City Architect and made additions including two children's villas (1936)
Item 84 of 1121934Bangour Village AsylumUphall West LothianScotlandExtension
Item 85 of 1121934Hall for Edinburgh Exhibition Association  EdinburghScotlandConverted to garage
Item 86 of 1121934Pleasance and Richmond Place council housing   EdinburghScotlandRebuilding - as City Architect
Item 87 of 112193549 Buccleuch Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 88 of 1121935Craigentinny Primary School  EdinburghScotland 
Item 89 of 1121935South Sloan and Iona Street council tenementsLeith, Edinburgh  ScotlandAs City Architect
Item 90 of 1121935St Leonards Street council housing Edinburgh EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 91 of 112193628 West PortOld Town EdinburghScotland 
Item 92 of 1121936Craigmillar Council HousingCraigmillar, Edinburgh EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 93 of 1121936Crewe Road North, Crewe Road Gardens Housing  Edinburgh  
Item 94 of 1121936Edinburgh City Chambers  EdinburghScotlandInternal alterations - vestibule and stairhall, with panelling and stained glass
Item 95 of 1121936Piershill Council Housing  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 96 of 1121936St Marks Council Housing, WarristonWarriston, Edinburgh  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 97 of 1121936Tramway Depot Offices, Smith's Place  EdinburghScotland 
Item 98 of 1121936West Pilton Housing SchemeWest Pilton EdinburghScotlandIn conjunction with Stewart Kaye
Item 99 of 1121937St Francis RC Primary SchoolCraigmillar EdinburghScotlandAttribution in B of S - but this is an error
Item 100 of 1121938110-124 Restalrig RoadRestalrig Edinburgh As City Architect
Item 101 of 11219383, 4, 5 St Patrick Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 102 of 1121938Crewe Road GardensGranton / Pilton Edinburgh As City Architect
Item 103 of 1121938Murrayburn Primary School  EdinburghScotland 
Item 104 of 1121938Peffermill School  EdinburghScotland 
Item 105 of 1121939City PoorhouseCraiglockhart EdinburghScotlandNew additions
Item 106 of 1121939East Pilton housing estate, phase 2  EdinburghScotlandMacrae was the City Architect at the time of East Pilton's establishment.
Item 107 of 1121939Ferry Road Housing, Edinburgh Corporation   Edinburgh  
Item 108 of 1121939Holy Cross AcademyLeith EdinburghScotlandnew building
Item 109 of 1121939Primary SchoolTanfield EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 110 of 1121939Tenement, 174-80 Morrison Street  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 111 of 1129 April 1945Royal Mile Proposals  Edinburgh  
Item 112 of 112Early 1900sLamp standards, Great Stuart Street  EdinburghScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 4Johnson, Jim and Rosenburg, Lou2010Renewing Old Edinburgh: the Enduring Legacy of Patrick Geddes Glendaruel: Argyll Publishingp 151-157
Item 2 of 4RCAHMS1999Homebuilders: Mactaggart & Mickel and the Scottish housebuilding industry RCAHMSp 73, 75, 78, 82
Item 3 of 4RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 4 of 4Steven Robb2017Ebenezer MacRae and Interwar Housing in Edinburgh Vol.13The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Building IndustriesFebruary 1951  Obituary
Item 2 of 3RIAS QuarterlyMay 195184Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)p56 Obituary
Item 3 of 3RIBA JournalJuly 1951 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary p370

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Courtesy of Christopher GordonInformation sent to Dictionary Sent September 2011
Item 2 of 3H M Register HouseDeath Register  
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v19 no1443; A v22 no2543 (microfilm reel 22); F no3192 (box 18)