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PENTLAND-SMITH, James Buchanan

Born: 1872 01 25
Died: 1917 02 01


LRIBA Pretoria 1911

Also referred to as SMITH, James Buchanan Pentland. The Dictionary of Scottish Architects has his dates of birth and death as 1872 02 25 to late 1919.

Worked in Natal, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal from 1896. His name is generally found without a hyphen but appears with a hyphen in his Licentiate membership papers for the RIBA (1911). He was born in Carnbee, Fifeshire and was apprenticed for five years to John Lumsdaine in Edinburgh, and for three years following, was an assistant to Hippolyte J Blanc, FRIBA in Edinburgh while attending the School of Art and Applied Art at Heriot Watt, Edinburgh.

In 1896 he arrived in South Africa and was employed as chief assistant to CW METHVEN in Durban. In 1902 he married METHVEN's eldest daughter. In 1904/5 he advertised in the Natal Almanac as an agent willing to assist in various undertakings in Durban. His LRIBA nomination papers state: 'I came out here in 1896 as chief assistant to CW METHVEN, Durban, and in 1908 became a partner and have been in practice since March 1909'. His partnership with METHVEN had ended by 1908, a commemorative stone on the tower of the Dutch Reformed Church building at Fouriesburg reads: 'Architect J Pentland Smith ... March 12th 1908'. According to EM POWERS, a contemporary in the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, Pretoria in 1909, and his obituarist) PENTLAND-SMITH practised in Bethlehem in the Orange Free State from 1906 until 1909, before joining the temporary staff of the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT of the TRANSVAAL COLONY in Pretoria. Hillebrand (1975) does not mention the partnership between METHVEN and PENTLAND-SMITH. It is possible that his reference to becoming a partner refers to his status in the firm of TULLY, WATERS, CLELAND & PENTLAND-SMITH.

In 1911 he was elected a Licentiate of the RIBA, the papers were signed by CW METHVEN, C BRADFORD and EM POWERS, METHVEN noting he was an 'accurate architectural draughtsman of exceptional ability'. He died of cerebral malaria while on active service in German East Africa during the Great War (First World War).

Brief biographical information also contained in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects.

(Jnl ATA Jun 1917:73, 74 obit; LRIBA nom papers 1911)

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.

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With photographs
With notes

Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk: 1893 : 1908. Fouriesburg, Free State - Architect


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

Hillebrand, Melanie. 1975. Aspects of architecture in Natal, 1880 1914. Pietermaritzburg: Unpublished MA. Dept Fine Art and History of Art, University of Natal. pp