Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sinister By Design

Sinister By Design?

John Quinton Bruce

Today's blog title is a little dramatic, and maybe a little misleading! It was designed to attract your attention to a story of three buildings in South Australia, and one of their designer's, architect, John Quinton Bruce.
While today I will touch briefly on the building 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. Today's blog will be a brief biography of the architect of the buildings, 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 he arrived in Adelaide in 1869. 
 Bruce was educated at the Pulteney Grammar School 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 an apprentice of E.H. Bayer of the architectural firm, “Bayer & Withall”. He remained with the company after finishing his apprenticeship and taking the position of drafts-man.
In 1884 he moved on to study surveying with Evans and Evans and then spent some time with architect William Cumming.
  Eventually, Bruce returned to Bayer & Whitall as their chief draftsman.
From 1894 until 1912, he worked independently taking on an employee, Louis Laybourne Smith as a draughtsman. 
From 1912 until 1916, he went into a partnership with fellow architects, working under the name, “Bruce, Wooldridge & Harral”. The partnership extended from 1916 until 1919, when Bruce, once again became an independent.
John Bruce was welcomed as a member of the South Australian 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.

 The house of Fred Scarfe, founder of iconic Adelaide business “Harris Scarfe”, found on Robe Terrace in North Adelaide. sometimes referred to as "Stonehenge".
House built for Frank Scarfe on robe Terrace, Noth Adelaide

  One has to ponder the influence the Freemason mysticism and mythology had over the architectural designs that Mr Bruce initiated. 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 hauntings that are rumoured in each building, as other works of Mr Bruce have not had the association of alleged hauntings. 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 all claimed to be haunted.

Mr Bruce died on the 8th of January 1930 at the age of 64 after contracting pneumonia. Three years prior he had suffered from a stroke, which led to a decline in his health and mobility. 

 Bruce left a widow and one daughter, Mrs H Clark of Eden Hills.
Today,  long after his death, his influence is witnessed with his grand designs that still present truly inspiring facades and interesting interiors. The echo of John Quenton Bruce will long be seen in Adelaide's grand buildings.

© 2012

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