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PATON, James Wallace

Born: 1874
Died: 1948 06 13


Practised in Durban from about 1905, Paton became one of the leading architects and artists in Natal. Paton was born in London and came to Natal as a child in 1885. He was articled to W STREET-WILSON in Durban about 1890 and became a partner in the business c1905/06 (cf STREET-WILSON & PATON). He continued to run the practice under the same style following Street-Wilson's death (1928) until 1936 when CSM TAYLOR joined the practice (cf. PATON & TAYLOR). The firm continued under this style until 1945. A note in the RIBA biography file for J Wallace Paton, written by CSM Taylor, said the firm had been Street-Wilson & Paton from 1900 until 1928. Paton was also an artist. He had studied art under a Belgian artist, one Emmerich, and in 1905 he and CW METHVEN founded the Natal Society of Artists; according to Taylor, Paton was 'regarded as one of South Africa's leading painters ... perhaps his great admirer was Gwelo Goodman' (CSM Taylor. RIBA biog file). Berman (1983:320) notes that Paton's style had affinities with that of Goodman. Paton exhibited several works at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, in 1924, along with other South African artist-architects such as WM TIMLIN and HLG PILKINGTON. In 1943 he served as consultant on the new Durban railway station (see also GE LE SUEUR), a project later abandoned. Paton seems to have retired in 1945. After his death in 1948 the practice was continued by Taylor and became PATON, TAYLOR, WILLIES & BENNET.

Paton was closely concerned with the practice of architecture in Natal and like many of his contemporaries was concerned about the question of a South African style of architecture. He was quoted (AB&E Dec 1927:18) as having said in an interview with a Durban afternoon paper that such a style 'would be the result of gentle evolution' given the varying climatic conditions throughout the country.

Vice-President NIA 1926; President NPIA in 1927; mem of advisory committee for Art, appointed by the Municipality of Durban c1920 (?); FRIBA Durban 1906; ISAA 1927. (Berman 1983; Fransen 1982; FRIBA nom papers (1906), gone astray; Hillebrand 1975; Hillebrand 1986; ISAA mem list; Jeppe 1964; NAD MSCE 2084/1948; Street-Wilson's FRIBA nom papers; RIBA biog file, note by CSM Taylor; SAAR Nov 1948:324, obit)

Publ: 'A century of progress in Natal' (cf. Hillebrand 1986*)

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.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Durban Girls' High School: 1937. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
House Lewis Reynolds: Lynton Hall: 1895. Pennington/Umdoni, KwaZulu-Natal - Design Architect

Books citing PATON

Berman, Esmé. 1970. Art and artists in South Africa : an illustrated biographical dictionary and historical survey of painters and graphic artists since 1875. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 6, 98, 100, 152, 167, 168, 187, 199, 219, 219, 254, 260, 261, 343, 344

Brown, SM. 1969. Architects and others: an annotated list of people of South African interest appearing in the RIBA Journal 1880-1925. Johannesburg: Unpublished dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand. pp

ISAA. 1927. Register of Members the Institute of South African Architects. Johannesburg: ISAA (Unpublished Record). pp P5