Pettigrew & Stephens

M124 Pettigrew & Stephens

Address: 181–193, Sauchiehall Street; Bath Street, Glasgow
Date: 1896; 1899–1901; 1903–7; 1909–10; 1913–15
Client: Pettigrew & Stephens
Authorship: Authorship category 2 (Mackintosh and Office) (Mackintosh and Office)

Photograph of Pettigrew & Stephens lantern at Hunterian Art Gallery

Origins and early development

The firm of Pettigrew & Stephens was established on 3 October 1888, when the Glasgow drapers Andrew Hislop Pettigrew and William Henry Stephens entered into partnership. 1 Stephens already had premises consisting of 'a single shop and upper flat' known as Manchester House at 191–193 Sauchiehall Street, at the E. corner of West Campbell Street. 2 Pettigrew & Stephens retained the name and made successive additions as the business expanded. Between October 1890 and May 1891, Manchester House was extended upwards by one storey plus attics. 3 Four years later, in December 1895, it was reported that since the last season the premises had been 'practically doubled in size to meet the increase in business which has resulted from the spread of the population westward'. 4 This probably refers to the acquisition of the neighbouring shop on the E. At any rate, the following month John Honeyman & Keppie made drawings – on which Mackintosh's handwriting appears – for knocking the two shops into one. 5 This was evidently what an undated entry in the architects' job books refers to: 'slapping wall between properties'. The work, which also included a new tea room and marble steps, was completed in March 1896. 6

Rebuilding, 1899–1901

Stephens died in 1897, and in 1899 Pettigrew commissioned John Honeyman & Keppie to carry out an altogether more ambitious enlargement. A precedent had been set by Bruce & Hay's recent additions to the neighbouring Copland & Lye department store, which now stretched from Sauchiehall Street along Wellington Street all the way to Bath Street. 7 Honeyman & Keppie's scheme for Pettigrew was more compact, but also taller and more imposing. A third shop was added to the Sauchiehall Street frontage, so that it extended from the corner of West Campbell Street to the Fine Art Institute. A perspective drawing by Alexander McGibbon was widely published at the time, and further information about the design can be pieced together from contemporary press descriptions, early insurance valuations and photographs taken before and during demolition in 1971.

Photograph of perspective drawing of Pettigrew & Stephens by Alexander McGibbon

W. S. Moyes, who worked for John Honeyman & Keppie in the 1890s, wrote 50 years later that John Keppie alone was responsible for the design of Pettigrew & Stephens. Mackintosh's contribution, he recalled, was limited to 'some internal show cases [and] internal wall decoration'. 8 However, other features can be attributed to Mackintosh on grounds of style.

Work commenced on site in May 1899, and the enlarged six-storey shop was complete by the end of April 1901. 9 Pettigrew & Stephens continued trading throughout the two years of rebuilding, as their regular advertisements in the Glasgow Herald make clear. The drawings show the use of steel beams to increase the load-bearing capacity of the upper floors. In November 1899, the engineer Alexander Frew wrote to the Herald about the danger to pedestrians caused by 'the excessively high buildings at present being erected in the city', the occasion for his complaint being his son's narrow escape from injury 'at the new building of Pettigrew & Stephens in Sauchiehall Street [when] a riveted steel girder 20 or 30 feet long ... fell upon the lorry ... which had brought it to the site'. 10 A photograph taken during demolition shows the floors supported by such beams, resting on cast-iron columns. 11 The shop was described in 1904 as 'built on fireproof principles', but the drawings approved by the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court show timber floors, rather than the system of iron and steel beams with concrete infill that Honeyman & Keppie had previously employed at the Glasgow Herald Buildings. 12 B/W photograph of building taken during demolition, 1971

Exterior

The Glasgow Herald described the style of the new building as 'Renaissance'. 13 The facade was 'white freestone with moulded and carved dressings', the rear elevation to Sauchiehall Lane 'square dressed rubble'. 14 Most of the ground floor was given over to huge display windows. On the upper floors, windows were arranged in continuous bands divided by narrow strips of masonry or columns, providing good natural lighting. Dormer windows with pedimented gables made a lively skyline above the balustraded cornice. The drawings for the dormer pediments show them filled with roundels of curvilinear decoration, which look like Mackintosh's work.

Four giant pilasters in the centre of the Sauchiehall Street front provided a setting for sculpture by William Kellock Brown, Albert H. Hodge and Annie Louise ('Aniza') McGeehan. The job books say that Brown did 'three panels', possibly those between the third- and fourth-floor windows showing putti with symbols of trade and navigation. McGeehan's tender and payment suggest that she was responsible for the seated figure of Justice in front of the dome, plus the four standing figures of Continents above the pilasters and one of the four corbels below. Hodge's contribution is not specified, but he was paid £450 – more than either of the others – so it must have been substantial. He may have designed and made the full-size models from which Brown and McGeehan carried out their carvings. Photographs taken shortly before demolition show that some of the work had a sinuous, Art Nouveau character, particularly the corbels and the panels with pairs of kneeling female figures above the fourth-floor windows. 15

The main architectural feature was the dome. Of lead-covered timber on an iron frame, topped by an elaborate lantern and enriched with gilding, it served as an eye-catching symbol of the business. At least one advertisement for the store included the motto 'Sign of the gilt dome', and a 1909 description likened it, improbably, to the gilded dome of Les Invalides in Paris. 16 In Victorian architecture, domes were generally reserved for important civic buildings, but the Wylie Hill department store in Buchanan Street, designed in 1889 by Mackintosh's first employer, John Hutchison, is a Glasgow precedent for a domed shop. 17 Pettigrew & Stephens's dome no doubt functioned chiefly as an opulent landmark, but when the Glasgow Advertiser and Property Circular published John Honeyman & Keppie's design in January 1899, it stated that 'the dome is to be used – Eiffel like – as an outlook for visitors', and a 1900 advertisement referred to it as 'a view tower from which the whole of the city can be seen'. 18 Another advertisement suggests that the interior may have been used as a camera obscura, or possibly for showing films: 'in its huge dome (reached by Electric Lifts), remarkable Living Pictures can be seen of the ever-changing panorama of Sauchiehall Street'. 19 B/W photograph of dome

It has been suggested that the Pettigrew & Stephens dome was adapted from Mackintosh's design for an octagonal, domed Chapter house, entered unsuccessfully in the 1892 Soane Medallion competition. 20 Although it shares the slightly pointed profile of Mackintosh's competition design (ultimately derived from Brunelleschi's dome for Florence Cathedral), the resemblance is otherwise very slight, and as far as Moyes could remember, Pettigrew & Stephens' dome 'was the work of Mr Keppie and Mackintosh had no influence on the design'. 21 However, the distinctive lantern does resemble the one on top of the chapter house, and by the 1970s it had come to be regarded as Mackintosh's work. It certainly has little in common with the classicism of the rest of the Sauchiehall Street shop, but its shallow, reverse-ogee cap with deep eaves recalls Mackintosh's 1892 design for a Railway Terminus, the tower of the Glasgow Herald and the ventilators on the roof of Martyrs Public School. Its balustrade of flat boards with pierced ornament recalls the S.W. gallery stair at Queen's Cross Church, and the pattern of the piercings is like the glazing of the doors at Queen's Cross.

Photograph of Pettigrew & Stephens lantern at Hunterian Art Gallery

Corroboratory evidence for Mackintosh's authorship of the lantern and dormer roundels is provided by Ronald Harrison, who studied Mackintosh's architecture in the 1930s and had access to the office records. He included the dome and dormers on lists he compiled of works he believed to be by Mackintosh and of drawings produced in the office during Mackintosh's time. He also made tracings of two original drawings of these features. 22

Interior

The interior had galleries surrounding a central, glass-roofed light well, the standard arrangement for 19th-century department stores. The main staircase was marble-lined and lit by stained glass windows designed by Stephen Adam & Son, 'depicting the industries and costumes of a long line of centuries'. 23 An electric lift served the full height of the building; other technological features included Grinnell sprinklers and a system of Lamson's pneumatic tubes for conveying payments between the various counters and a central cash desk. Lighting was by gas and electricity, heating by steam pipes. 24

'Tea and luncheon rooms, furnished in luxurious style' were on the second floor overlooking West Campbell Street (the kitchen was on the top floor, to prevent cooking smells invading the sales areas). 25 Views of the tea rooms around 1909 show a decorative scheme in which classical plasterwork predominates, but there is also a partition incorporating leaded glazing and settles in curved recesses, which has features in common with designs of 1900–2 by Mackintosh. 26 The curved recesses recall the Reception and Music Room of the House for an Art Lover (1901), while the arm rests of the settles are similar to the built-in seating for the drawing room at Dunglass Castle (1900), the Children's Room of the House for an Art Lover (1901–2) and the Waerndorfer music salon in Vienna (1902).

Sketch of interior of Pettigrew & Stephens' tea room Photograph of postcard of Pettigrew & Stephens' Tea Room

Critical reception

Alexander McGibbon's perspective drawing was shown at the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1899 (722), under the title 'Warehouse, Sauchiehall Street'. The Glasgow Herald commented that the architects 'have had a difficult problem set them in the incorporation of the existing corner building, and the most that can be said is that they have succeeded in conveying a sense of the unity of the whole, while increasing its dignity'. 27 The Building News expressed similar reservations, observing that the new building 'incorporates an existing structure which, to a certain extent, dominates the design'. 28

Later changes

In 1904, Pettigrew leased the building of the Fine Art Institute next door at 171–179 Sauchiehall Street, and began using it as his furniture department. 29 Designed in 1878 by J. J. Burnet (1857–1938), the Institute had shops on the ground floor and a suite of top-lit exhibition galleries on the first, reached by a central entrance vestibule and imperial stair. In 1906, Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh made various minor changes to adapt the whole building as an extension of Pettigrew & Stephens and link it internally with the rest of the shop. Further minor works to the basement followed in 1909, and in 1910 the exterior stonework was silicated. In 1914–15, the practice was employed on extensive alterations to the shopfronts, for which bronze work was supplied by the Birmingham Guild Ltd. and sculpture by Albert Hodge.

Lithograph of Pettigrew & Stephens from N.W.

In 1971 Pettigrew & Stephens's entire premises were demolished and the site incorporated into the Sauchiehall Centre, a shopping complex of 1970–4. With the involvement of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and the University of Glasgow, the lantern was salvaged and removed to the garden of The Hill House at Helensburgh. 30 Restored for display at the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988, it was afterwards transferred to the Hunterian Art Gallery. 31

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Notes:

1: University of Glasgow Archive Services: House of Fraser archive, memorandum of agreement between Andrew Hislop Pettigrew and William Henry Stephens, FRAS 110; for a brief biography of Pettigrew, see Glasgow Contemporaries at the Dawn of the 20th Century, Glasgow: Photo Biographical Publishing Company, 1901, p. 198, with portrait photograph.

2: The Eagle, 2, 30 September 1909, pp. 9–10.

3: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court, Register of Inspections, D-OPW 25/63, p. 22.

4: Glasgow Herald, 20 December 1895, p. 4.

5: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild plans, 1/4290.

6: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court, Register of Inspections, D-OPW 25/63, p. 101.

7: Glasgow Advertiser and Property Circular, 27 September 1898.

8: University of Toronto, Robarts Library: letter from W. S. Moyes to Thomas Howarth, 29 April 1947, B96-0028/017 (13).

9: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court, Register of Inspections, D-OPW 25/64, p. 41; Glasgow Herald, 27 April 1901, p. 1; p. 6.

10: Glasgow Herald, 15 November 1899, p. 4.

11: Edinburgh, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: negative GW/2165.

12: Glasgow Herald, 14 March 1904, p. 11.

13: Glasgow Herald, 27 April 1901, p. 6.

14: University of Glasgow Archive Services: House of Fraser archive, valuation of premises at 181–193 Sauchiehall Street, GB0248 FRAS 115/2.

15: Edinburgh, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: negatives GW/1094, GW/1095, GW/1099 and GW/1100.

16: Pearson's Gossipy Guide to Glasgow, the Clyde District and the International Exhibition of 1901, London: C. Arthur Pearson, [1901], p. 2 of Supplement; Glasgow To-Day, Glasgow: Henry Munro, 1909, pp. 56–9.

17: British Architect, 32, 22 November 1889, p. 362 and illustration.

18: Glasgow Advertiser and Property Circular, 24 January 1899; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1900.

19: Pearson's Gossipy Guide to Glasgow, the Clyde District and the International Exhibition of 1901, London: C. Arthur Pearson, [1901], p. 2 of Supplement.

20: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd edn, 1977, p. 13.

21: University of Toronto, Robarts Library: letter from W. S. Moyes to Thomas Howarth, 29 April 1947, B96-0028/017 (13).

22: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 52337 (M124-014); GLAHA 52473 (M124-013).

23: Glasgow Herald, 27 April 1901, p. 6.

24: University of Glasgow Archive Services: House of Fraser archive, valuation of premises at 181–193 Sauchiehall Street, GB0248 FRAS 115/2.

25: Glasgow Herald, 27 April 1901, p. 6; Glasgow Herald, 14 March 1904, p. 11.

26: Glasgow, Mitchell Library: Glasgow Scrapbook 8, p. 43; Glasgow To-Day, Glasgow: Henry Munro, 1909, pp. 56–9.

27: Glasgow Herald, 3 April 1899, p. 8. In 1903, Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh showed an elevation of the central part of the facade at the Royal Scottish Academy. This made a better impression by omitting the unbalanced flanking parts, and the Scotsman described it as 'a boldly treated warehouse front':Scotsman, 30 March 1903, p. 9.

28: Building News, 77, 18 August 1899, p. 193.

29: University of Glasgow Archive Services: House of Fraser archive, valuation of premises at 181–193 Sauchiehall Street, GB0248 FRAS 115/2; Glasgow Herald, 14 March 1904, p. 11.

30: Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 2, January 1974.

31: The Environment Show at the Glasgow Garden Festival '88, [Glasgow, 1988] p. 11.