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MORRIS, James

Born: 1878 02 09
Died: 1964 05 25

Architect

SACA:
Reg No: 208
Year registered: 1927


List of Projects

An architect who practised in Cape Town on his own account from 1909; he was in partnership with FK KENDALL in Cape Town from about 1916 until 1924 (cf KENDALL & MORRIS). Morris was born in Dunfermline, the third son of Dr James Morris, and was educated in Scotland. He was articled to A Scobie in Dunfermline from 1895 until 1899 when he went to work in Edinburgh in 1899, receiving 'sound practical training in construction' (LRIBA nom papers 1910) from 1899 to 1902 in the office of Hippolyte Blanc. Here Morris worked as an Improver for a year, and for a further year as a junior assistant. On two occasions, in the absence of the chief draughtsman, he was in charge of the office.

Morris came to South Africa in 1902. He worked in G RANSOME's office, Cape Town, until 1903 when he joined the office of BAKER & MASEY. According to Morris, during the whole of his time with this firm he was chief draughtsman, preparing all drawings and supervising the firm's most important buildings. In 1906 Morris travelled overseas specifically to study the cathedral cities of Northern France in preparation for the work on the new St George's Cathedral, Cape Town. He left this office in 1909 to set up practice on his own account in Cape Town. A few years later (1916) he joined FK Kendall in partnership (cf BAKER, KENDALL & MORRIS). On Baker's final withdrawal from South Africa in December 1918 the firm became known as KENDALL & MORRIS from January 1919. In 1924 Morris travelled in England, Italy, France and Holland and in September 1925 the partnership of Kendall & Morris was dissolved, both partners carrying on practice on their own accounts in Cape Town.

Morris won the competition for what is probably his best-known building: the Reserve Bank Building in Cape Town (1926) for which in 1932 he was awarded the Bronze Medal by the Cape Provincial Institute of Architects. He applied for Fellowship of the RIBA in 1933, proposed by WJ McWILLIAMS who said he had known Morris since 1913, adding 'the South African Reserve Bank (CT) is generally considered one of the finest pieces of architecture in this Union ... a very excellent rendering of Florentine Renaissance' (FRIBA nom papers 1933, J Morris). Another work of this period and one for which he was mainly responsible was the design and construction of the Cape Technical College (1926). He was also responsible for a number of Provincial schools, shops and factories in and around Cape Town and the restoration of the Drostdy at Tulbagh after the fire of 1934.

He married Jessie Stapleton 23 July 1914 and had three children. They lived in Wynberg at Hillcote, Riverstone Road for most of his life and he died in Cape Town.

LRIBA 1910 Cape Town; FRIBA 1933. (AB&E Apr 1928:8, 9 ill; AB&E Aug 1933:23; Rennie 1978b; LRIBA nom papers (1910) 213; FRIBA nom papers 1933 (3114); SAAR Dec1925:105; SAAR Apr 1933:88; SAWW 1927/28; SESA 7:542; WHK 1933, 1934)

Publ: Colour in architecture, paper read at a meeting of the Cape Institute of Architects, Afr Archt Jan 1912:162-4

Morris's LRIBA papers (1910) list the following works executed before 1910 while with BAKER & MASEY: St George's Cathedral; Mansion and stables for Abe Bailey, Muizenberg; House R Stuttaford, Kenilworth; block of offices for S Marks, Parliament St; Nat Mut Insr Co Bldg of Australasia, Church St, CT; RC Church, Paarl; Bishop's Court, alts, CT; House Sir Lewis Michell: Edingight, adds, Rondebosch, CT; Dr LS Jameson, adds, Westbrook, Rondebosch; Exhibition for Western Province Agricultural Society.

The following buildings, listed in Morris's FRIBA nom papers (1933), pre-date 1933: Robertson Girls' H/S; Robertson Training Inst; Tarkastad P/S; Carnarvon P/S and School Boarding House; Rochester Rd Schools; Houses in Cape Town for Albert Ritter, George H Grey, Frank F Elliott, Frank Duffett; Rhodes Univ Coll, Grahamstown (two tutorial blocks, two hostels & men's dining hall); Mount Nelson Hotel, wing, CT; Dock offices, Union Castle Steamship Co Ltd CT; St Cyprian's School by the firm, 'completed by me', CT; country mansion for JW Jagger, by firm 'completed by me'; Cape Technical College, won in competition; Farm Houses: Doornkloof for JW van Zyl; Stettyn for JPM Stofberg; Mafeking Secondary School; St Alban's Church, Greenwood, CT; Farm bldgs, Stellenbosch; Mafeking War Memorial; Garden for WJ Thorne at House Dunluce, CT; Restored: The Kat, Castle, CT; Old Normal College. He 'designed quite a lot of furniture in SA Dutch style'.

There is also a listing of this practitioner on the Dictionary of Scottish Architects.

The following articles were listed in his FRIBA papers, no details other than titles: Colour in architecture; History of furniture and its special application to South African furniture; Design of farm buildings; Practical wrinkles and tips for everyday work.

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.