Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sinister By Design


Sinister By Design?


John Quinton Bruce


Whilst today's blog title is probably a little dramatic, and maybe a little misleading, it is a good foray into today’s topic, three buildings in South Australia, and one of their designer's, architect, John Quinton Bruce.
While today I will touch briefly on the house designs, I will not go into depth on any one building in particular, nor the ghost story associated with it, instead I will save that for future writings, where we will cover the history of these locations, instead, today's blog will be a brief biography of the buildings architect, John Quinton Bruce.


Mr Bruce was born on the 17th of April 1865, born at sea near the island of Tobago in The West Indies, the son of a ship-master  and arrived in Adelaide in 1869. Bruce was educated at Pultney Grammar School (of which new buildings he would later design), and was a well rounded athlete in his youth, enjoying competition rowing and swimming.
A member of the Adelaide Racing Club, The Adelaide Turf Club and a lifetime member of the Adelaide Rowing Club.


Headstone North Road Anglican Cemetery
In 1880, Bruce became and apprentice of E.H. Bayer of Architectural firm, “Bayer & Withall”, he remained with the company after finishing his apprenticeship, and took the job of Drafts-man.
In 1884 he moved on to study surveying with Evans and Evans, and then spent some time with William Cumming, only to eventually return to Bayer & Whitall as their chief drafts-man,
from 1894 until 1912, he worked as his own boss, taking on an employee, Louis Laybourne Smith as a draughtsman. Soon he found himself at “Bruce, Wooldridge & Harral”, but was soon to return to being an independent practitioner again (from 1916 – 1919)
John Bruce was welcomed as a member of the South Australia Institute of Architects in November of 1894, gaining his Fellowship in 1897. He held the position of Vice President from 1905, and held the office of President from 1909 to 1911

Soldiers Memorial Hall - Renmark, South Australia
The Architecture of John Quinton Bruce is somewhat flamboyant, He designed a number of Adelaide's buildings and residences in the “Federation” style.
Some of his building designs include the Woodville Institute, Electra House (131- 133 King William Street), The Soldiers Memorial Hall and Hospital in Renmark.

Bruce is also credited with three buildings that have long rumoured to be haunted in South Australia , “Carclew House” built on Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide in 1901, The Freemasons Grand Lodge, found at 254-164 on North Terrace in Adelaide, and the house of Fred Scarfe, founder of Adelaide business “Harris Scarfe”, building found on Robe Terrace in North Adelaide.
House built for Frank Scarfe on robe Terrace, Noth Adelaide

There are a number of ghost stories associated with these buildings in Adelaide, (we will be profiling them separately at a later date). One has to ponder the influence the Freemason had over the architectural designs that Mr Bruce eventually built, as an active member of Adelaide's Freemason society, and a past “Master”, there are aspects of Freemason symbolism in almost all his designs.
Grand Freemason Lodge, North Terrace, Adelaide.
It is probably not fair to say that this symbolism is linked to the haunting that are rumoured in each building, as other works of Mr Bruce have not had the stigma's associated with ghosts and haunting attached, however, with claims of supernatural goings on dogging the Freemasons for decades, it isn't hard for many to believe that there could be other forces at work, possibly in the very design, or layout of these three buildings claimed to be haunted.

Mr Bruce died on the 8th of January 1930 at the age of 64, he suffered a stroke whilst sleeping 3 years prior, and eventually succumb to pneumonia.
He left a Widow and one daughter, Mrs H Clark of Eden Hills.
Now long after his death, his influence is witnessed with his grand designs that still present truly inspiring facades upon Adelaide's skyline


© 2012