Born in Paisley, c. 1842, John Hutchison is described in the 1861 Census as an apprentice mason. 1 However, he went on to train as an architect with John Thomas Rochead in Glasgow. 2 He appears for the first time in practice on his own account in the Glasgow Post Office Directory for 1869, with an office at 190 West George Street, but he continued to live with his sisters and furniture-manufacturer brother at the family home in Paisley, and much of his work was carried out in his home town. When Mackintosh was Hutchison's apprentice, the office was in St Vincent Street. Hutchison's brother's furniture shop was nearby – for a time it was at the same address – and Thomas Howarth speculated that this may have encouraged Mackintosh's interest in furniture design. 3 Hutchison was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1898. 4 Among his pupils prior to Mackintosh was John Kinross (1855–1931), who had a notable career as a domestic architect and restorer of historic Scottish buildings. 5
In 1884–5 Hutchison took part, by invitation, in the limited competition for the Coats Memorial Church in Paisley, a major ecclesiastical commission of the period, with an advertised budget of £20,000; other competitors included J. P. Seddon and J. J. Burnet. Hutchison's design was commended by the assessor James Sellars for the 'grace and elegance' of its tower and spire and for its plan, and was published in the British Architect, the first of several of his buildings to feature in this journal. 6 His design for the new Barony Church in Glasgow – possibly another unsuccessful competition entry – was included in the 1888 Glasgow International Exhibition. 7 Executed ecclesiastical works included the West Free Church in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, and Craigmore church at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. 8 Hutchison designed two of the many big red sandstone commercial buildings in Northern Renaissance style that proliferated in the centre of Glasgow towards the end of the 19th century: R. Wylie Hill's six-storey department store in Buchanan Street of 1888–9; and the premises of the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Company at the corner of St Vincent Street and Hope Street, of 1897–8. 9 In 1900 he won the competition for the large Abercorn Public School in Paisley, and this too was published in the British Architect. 10 His other works are said to have included 'numerous mansions and villas in the West of Scotland'. 11
Hutchison died at Fairhill House, Paisley, on 24 May 1908. 12
1: Census 1861, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 24 January 2014].
2: Glasgow Contemporaries at the Dawn of the XXth Century, Glasgow: The Photo-Biographical Publishing Co., 1901, p. 153.
3: Thomas Howarth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1952, p. 3.
4: Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 1840–1980, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 24 January 2014].
5: Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 1840–1980, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 24 January 2014].
6: British Architect, 24, 17 July 1885, pp. 33–4; 21 August 1885, following p. 86; and 28 August 1885, following p. 96.
7: British Architect, 29, 25 May 1888, p. 371.
8: Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 1840–1980, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 24 January 2014]. British Architect, 32, 20 September 1889, following p. 199.
9: British Architect, 32, 22 November 1889, p. 362; Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, p. 235.
10: British Architect, 57, 23 May 1902, p. 362.
11: Glasgow Contemporaries at the Dawn of the XXth Century, Glasgow: The Photo-Biographical Publishing Co., n.d. , p. 153.
12: Glasgow Herald, 25 May 1908, p. 1.