Henry Mitchell

Architect; JHKM employee

Architect Henry Mitchell (1864–1932) had a strong artistic pedigree. He was the grandson of the Edinburgh silver-engraver and printmaker Lawrence Mitchell (d. 1817), and the son of the landscape painter and numismatic sculptor Francis Nalder Mitchell (1810–1865). 1 In the mid-1830s, Francis and his brother emigrated to Boston, where they learned gem-engraving, and Francis became a successful artist producing both printed landscapes and modelling commemorative medallions and other numismatic tokens. 2 Examples of his work included the 1856 'personal medal' presented to Commodore Matthew C. Perry by Boston merchants, celebrating his recent expedition to Japan. 3 Although he became a naturalised U.S. citizen in 1847, Francis eventually returned to Scotland. 4

Henry Mitchell enrolled in the Glasgow School of Art in 1884, attending until 1893–4. He won several certificates in local examinations for freehand and model drawing, and perspective, between 1885 and 1887. In 1885, he was apprenticed to Campbell Douglas & Sellars. However, some time after James Sellars's death in late 1888, he transferred to the newly-formed partnership of John Honeyman & Keppie, and was first paid by them in December 1889. 5 His successes at the School continued, with third grade prizes in the annual 'National Competitions' for art students, for measured drawing and architectural design in 1888 and 1889 and bronze medals in National Competitions for his designs for a town-house staircase, and a classical church steeple, in 1891 and 1892 respectively. 6

Having completed his training in 1893, Mitchell entered partnership with William Tait Conner, a former colleague from Campell Douglas's office. 7 Mitchell received two further awards in the Government's Department of Science and Art National Competitions, a silver medal for a church (reported in 1893), and a gold medal for 'a college showing originality' (reported in 1894). In 1896 the partnership was invited to submit an entry to the Glasgow School of Art competition, in place of William Leiper, who had declined to take part. 8

The association with Conner was not a success and appears to have ended by early 1900, when Mitchell was sharing offices with Thomas Lennox Watson. They advertised as 'T. L. Watson & Mitchell', at 166 Bath Street, Glasgow, leaving Conner to practise alone until he departed for Cape Town in 1902. 9

After their collaboration on a competition entry for Glasgow Technical College (1900–1) and the interiors of the yacht Margarita III (1900), the Watson-Mitchell partnership was dissolved on 11 January 1902. Once again, Mitchell formed a new business alliance, this time with another Campbell Douglas & Sellars alumnus, Charles Whitelaw(1869–1939). Whitelaw had also worked at John Honeyman & Keppie. 10

The new firm of Mitchell & Whitelaw's projects included Helensburgh Golf Clubhouse (1908). They also completed six nearby villas, 'speculative venture in stylish Scots Renaissance', (1907–12), and 'Easterhill', Helensburgh, an 'asymmetrical Scottish Arts and Crafts villa' of 1903. 11 Mitchell joined the Glasgow Institute of Architects in December 1907 and was admitted as a Licentiate to the RIBA in April 1911. Despite acquiring work such as the shop and warehouse block, Ashfield House, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow (1903–5;1907–8), the recession in the building industry contributed to the practice's closure by the outbreak of the First World War. 12

Mitchell continued to work from his home in Helensburgh. He died suddenly in Helensburgh in December 1932, and his obituaries record that he worked latterly in Edinburgh (probably confusing him with Whitelaw). 13

Notes:

1: 'Mitchell, Lawrens' [sic], Old Parish Records, Deaths, Statutory Marriages, Deaths, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk; 'Mitchell, Lawrence', Scottish Book Trade Index, online database, www.nls.uk/catalogues [accessed 31 March 2014].

2: Jim Haas, family member, New York, personal communication, 31 March 2014; Boston Musuem of Fine Arts, Numismatics Collection, Massachusetts Horticultural Society Prizewinners' Medals, RES.65.36, 98.1545, Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association Token, 98.1543, online catalogue, www.mfa.org [accessed 30 March 2014]; J. M. Houston, 'M. J. Whipple's New England Scenery from Nature Series: A Yearbook of Tappan and Bradford Artists, 1849–1852', Imprint (American Historical Print Collectors Society), 27.2, Autumn 2002, pp. 27–44.

3: R. W. Julian, Medals of the United States Mint, The First Century, 1792–1892, El Cajon, Calif.: Token and Medal Soc., 1977, p. 218; George C. Baxley, 2014, 'Medal Commemorating the Perry Expedition to Japan', Bexley Stamps Internet Stamp Booth [descriptive inventory], New Mexico, www.baxleystamps.com [accessed 31 March 2014].

4: 'Francis N. Mitchell, 1 July 1847', U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791–1992, online database; Jim Haas 2013, 'Henry Son of Henry', Story, Mitchell Family Tree (owner 'x46pcs'), posted 18 December 2014, both at www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 30 March 2014]; Jim Haas, family member, New York, personal communication, 31 March 2014.

5: Student Registers, consulted by Archives Assistant (personal communciation), Glasgow School of Art, 12 March 2014; 'Henry Mitchell', Dictionary of Scottish Architects, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 30 March 2014]; The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh / Keppie Henderson cash book, 1889–1917, GLAHA 53079, p. 4.

6: Glasgow Herald, 7 June 1889, 10; Scotsman, 2 August 1888, p. 7; Student Registers, information kindly provided by the Glasgow School of Art Archives, 12 March 2014.

7: 'Henry Mitchell', Dictionary of Scottish Architects, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 30 March 2014].

8: Glasgow School of Art Archives: Building Committee minutes, GOV 5/1/1, 15 July 1896.

9: Statutory Deaths, Census 1911, wwww.scotlandspeople.gov.uk; 'W. T. Conner', Liverpool, 16 January 1902, U.K., Outward Passenger Lists, 1890–1960, www.ancestry.co.uk [both accessed 30 March 2014]; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1899–1900, pp. 146, 436, 624; 1900–1, pp. 149, 442, 632.

10: Edinburgh Gazette, 6 June 1902, p. 569; 'Margarita III', and 'Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College', Dictionary of Scottish Architects, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 30 March 2014].

11: Frank A. Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Argyll and Bute, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2000, pp. 274, 287, 288; 'Listing Text: 6 Munro Drive East, Easterhill, Helensburgh', Historic Scotland Building I.D.: 34821, British Listed Buildings Online, www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk [accessed 1 April 2014].

12: Fiona Sinclair, architect, Glasgow, Past-Secretary, Glasgow Institute of Architects, personal communication, 14 March 2014; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1907–8, pp. 490–1; 'Henry Mitchell', Dictionary of Scottish Architects, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 30 March 2014].

13: Scotsman, 27 December 1932, p. 5; 20 February 1933, p. 11; Glasgow Herald, 27 December 1932, pp. 1, 10.