Addition to 224 St Vincent Street

M181 Addition to 224 St Vincent Street

Address: 224, St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5RQ
Date: 1900–2
Client: Alexander Massey
Authorship: Authorship category 3 (Office with Mackintosh) (Office with Mackintosh)

The terrace of houses at 202–228 St Vincent Street was built c. 1830–5. 1 It was part of the residential development of the Blythswood estate as a 'new town', W. of Glasgow's medieval and 18th-century centre. By the later 19th century, as affluent citizens moved further out to the developing West End and southern suburbs, the Blythswood houses started to be converted to commercial uses: Post Office directories show that 224 was already in business occupation by the 1880s.

In 1900 the successful provision merchant Alexander Massey employed John Honeyman & Keppie to design a rear extension containing further office suites, not for his own occupation but as a speculative development. The drawings are dated February and April 1900, but they were not approved by the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court until the following April. 2

The extension was demolished c. 1987, and no photographic record has come to light, so the drawings are the only evidence of its appearance. It consisted of three storeys above a basement, like the original house, and it stood on what had been the site of the stables. House and extension were separated by a small yard, but connected by a narrow link at one side, the entrance to the whole building being the original front door of the house. The extension had its own staircase leading to offices on each floor, with generous windows overlooking West George Lane. A single large office with an open timber roof filled most of the top floor. The basement was presumably used for storgage: it had no windows, and was connected to the lane by a hoist for deliveries. Toilets were in the link.

Mackintosh evidently worked on this project: the job-book entry is written partly in his hand, he annotated some of the drawings approved by the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court, and the April 1900 drawing of the staircase appears to be by him. Moreover, the signature of John Honeyman & Keppie on this drawing is in Mackintosh's hand, even though he was not yet a partner in the firm. Nevertheless, the design shows little evidence of his creative input.

Detail of signature on drawing for 224 St Vincent St

The drawings show a plain brick exterior – elaboration would not have been appropriate, since the extension was invisible from the street – and an equally simple interior. The stairs with their stone treads supported on cast-iron stringers are typical of John Honeyman & Keppie's larger buildings, such as Martyrs Public School and 137–143 Sauchiehall Street. The roof trusses, too, are of a type familiar from other projects by the practice, such as the exactly contemporary Dunottar at Kilmacolm. Only the top-floor fireplace is at all unusual: the drawing includes front and side elevations, which show an enclosed mantel shelf with a curving profile.

Photograph of drawing of fireplace at 224 St Vincent St

In 1987, 202–228 St Vincent Street were largely demolished and rebuilt behind their preserved early 19th-century facades by Keppie, Henderson & Partners of Glasgow. 3

Notes:

1: Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, p. 236.

2: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild plans, TD1309/A/510; Glasgow Dean of Guild Court, Register of Inspections, D-OPW 25/8, p. 86.

3: Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, p. 236.