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HARRIS, Morris (Morrie) Jacob

Born: 1875 01 01
Died: 1950 10 15


Harris was born in London, his father, Mark Louis Harris, was a Rabbi and Morris was educated in Sutherland, County Durham, England. The family came to settle in Kimberley in 1889, moving later to the Witwatersrand where Rabbi Harris was the first Rabbi and a pioneer minister on the Rand. Morris Harris served articles with WH MILES in Kimberley. Shortly after Miles's death in 1893 he opened his own practice in Kimberley. The outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War led Harris to move to Mafeking where he was practising by 1901, holding the position of Municipal Surveyor of Mafeking from 1901 until 1905; during this time he acted as supervising architect for BAKER & MASEY in the execution of the Seige Memorial Church at Mafeking and as supervising architect for ROGERS & ROSS of Kimberley in the execution of Mafeking Town Hall and of the Wesleyan church, Mafeking. Harris himself designed several mission churches in Bechuanaland about this time, so far these have not been identified. In 1905 he moved to Johannesburg where he set up practice as an architect, his first major commission being the design of the great Lion synagogue in Doornfontein (1905). Harris was an examiner in architectural practice at the Transvaal University College, Johannesburg from 1905 until 1912. More of his work at this time is not known, most of it appearing to be private houses. In 1913 Harris acted as the assessor of the competition for the design of the Presbyterian Church in Boksburg; he was married in the same year to May Cohen. Harris was elected the president of the Transvaal Institute of Architects for 1918/1919 and councillor for the Judith's Paarl Ward, Doornfontein. His keen interest in municipal and civic affairs had matured by 1918 and it was he who was largely responsible for establishing a free municipal library in Johannesburg in 1924, he being a member of the Public Library Administration from 1923 to 1924 during his period as mayor of Johannesburg (1923-1924.) Harris returned to practice at the end of his term of office in March 1924, entering into partnership with WJ SLOAN (cf HARRIS & SLOAN), which was dissolved in September 1924 by mutual consent. His involvement with public life caused him to be among the delegates chosen to present the Architects and Quantity Surveyors (Private) Act before Parliament in 1927. In 1928 Harris entered into partnership or associateship with EMLEY & WILLIAMSON in Johannesburg; not much is known about this association. Harris founded (n.d.) the Johannesburg Jewish Guild and was its president for many years. He died in Johannesburg, his address at the time being 1 Victoria Avenue, Parktown.

Mem Soc Archts (Lon) SA branch; Pres Soc Archts (Lon) SA branch, 1912-13; Pres ATA 1918/19; ISAA 1927 (Afr Archt Nov 1912:89-92; Afr Archt Jan 1913:118; RIBA Jnl Jul 1951:370 obit; SAAE&S Jnl Jan 1907:58,74; SAAE&S Jnl Aug 1907:191; SAB Nov 1928:71; SAWW 1908, 1931-2 port; TAD MHG 6155/50

Publ: Architects and the corporate sense, Afr Archt May 1912:215-17; Retiring President's report, Afr Archt Sep 1914:10; Street architecture, Building Dec 1918:206-9. Johannesburg: Synagogue, President St, reconstruction of interior of old synagogue (Afr Archt Nov 1912:92; Norwich 1987) 1895; Mafeking: Seige Memorial Monument (Afr Archt Nov 1912:92) c1901-5; Council Chamber (Afr Archt Nov 12:92) c1901-5; Library (Afr Archt Nov 1912:92) c1901-5; Johannesburg: Lion Synagogue, 120 Siemert St, Doornfontein (Praagh 1906: 276, 277 ill; RAU doc) 1905; Hartfield House, 74 Staib St (Afr Archt Nov 1912:92) 1908; House R Robbins, Parktown (Afr Archt Nov 1912:92) pre-1912; House P R Davis, Parktown (Afr Archt Nov 1912:92) pre-1912; House A H Lewis, Parktown (Afr Archt Nov 1912:92) pre-1912; House K Stenhouse, Parktown (Afr Archt Nov 1912:92) pre-1912; Warehouse, Cohen & Goldman (SAB Dec 1926:53) c1925-6

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

Council Chamber: c1901. Mahikeng, North West - Architect
Hartfield House: 1908. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
House A H Lewis: pre-1912. Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
House K Stenhouse: pre-1912. Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
House P R Davis: pre-1912. Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
House R Robbins: pre-1912. Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
Library: c1901. Mahikeng, North West - Architect
Lion Synagogue: 1905. Doornfontein, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
Siege Memorial Monument: c1901. Mahikeng, North West - Architect
Synagogue, reconstruction of interior of old synagogue: 1895. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
Town Hall - Museum: 1902. Mahikeng, North West - Supervising Architect
Warehouse, Cohen & Goldman: c1925. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect

Books citing HARRIS

Oxley, John. 1992. Places of Worship in South Africa. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers. pp 157

SAWW & Donaldson, K (Ed.). 1920. South African Who's Who (Social, Business & Farming) 1919-1920 . Cape Town: Ken Donaldson. pp 83