Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Stevenson, John James

STEVENSON, JOHN JAMES (1831–1908), architect, born in Glasgow on 24 Aug. 1831, was third son of James Stevenson by his wife Jane, daughter of Alexander Shannan. His education, begun in the High School of Glasgow, was continued in the university, where he graduated M.A. Being intended for the Scottish ministry, he took the theological course at Edinburgh, followed by a summer at Tübingen.

But a strong personal bent towards architecture, strengthened by a visit to Italy, induced him in 1856 to enter the office of David Bryce [q. v.] of Edinburgh, whence in 1858 he proceeded to London for further training under Sir George Gilbert Scott [q. v.]. With R. J. Johnson, a fellow student at Scott's, he made an architectural tour in France and began practice about 1860 as a partner with Campbell Douglas in Glasgow. Nine years later he spent a winter studying in Paris, and in 1870 joined E. R. Robson, a fellow pupil under Scott, who had just been appointed architect to the London school board. With him Stevenson evolved a simple type of brick design sufficiently in sympathy with early eighteenth - century architecture to be styled 'Queen Anne,' and at about the same date he built for himself 'The Red House,' Bayswater Hill, which became the meeting-place of friends prominent in literature and art, such as Alfred Ainger [q. v. Suppl. II], George MacDonald [q. v. Suppl. II], Sir W. Q. Orchardson [q. v. Suppl. II], J. H. Middleton [q. v. Suppl. I], William Morris [q. v. Suppl. I], and Prof. Robertson Smith [q. v.]. In association with Morris he became one of the original members of the committee of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Besides the board schools, Stevenson's work comprised many designs of an ecclesiastical and domestic nature. Among the former were churches at Monzie (1868), Crieff (1881), Perth (1883), the first modern example of a crowned tower, Fairlie, an enlargement (1894), Stirling (1900), and Glasgow (1900). His country house designs include two at Westoe, South Shields (1868 and 1874); Ken Hill, Norfolk (1888); Oatlands Mere, Weybridge (1893); several in the neighbourhood of Camberley, and at Oxford and Cambridge.

His London houses were numerous, among them being groups in Palace Gate and Lowther Gardens (1878), a house, with studio, for Colin Hunter in Melbury Road (1878), others in South Street (1879), Kensington Court (1881), the south side of Cadogan Square (1881), and Buckingham Palace Road (1892). He designed a school at Fairlie (1880), the offices of the Tyne Commissioners at Newcastle (1882), and some shipping offices in Fenchurch Avenue. At Oxford Stevenson carried out restorations or repairs at St. John's College (1889) and Oriel (1899), besides designing the University Morphological Laboratory (1899). At Cambridge he was responsible for the university chemical laboratory (1889), new buildings at Christ's College (1886 and 1906), and made designs for the Sedgwick Memorial Museum and additions to Sidney Sussex and Clare Colleges, none of which were however carried out.

For the Orient Company he designed the interior decoration of several vessels, being the first architect to undertake such work. In 1896 Stevenson took into partnership Mr. Harry Redfern, and all works carried out after that date may be assigned to their joint authorship.

Among papers read by Stevenson to societies, many were concerned with the preservation of ancient buildings: some had an archaeological trend; he especially interested himself in the attempt to recover the design of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. In 1880 he published an illustrated work in two volumes, entitled 'House Architecture.'

Stevenson was elected F.S.A. in 1884 and fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1879.

Stevenson died at 4 Porchester Gardens on 5 May 1908. He married in 1861 Jane, daughter of Robert Omond, M.D, F.R.C.S. England, and was survived by her and two sons and four daughters.

[Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 3rd series, vol. xv. 1908, p. 482; the Builder, vol. xciv. 1908, p. 551; information from Mr, Harry Redfern.]

P. W.