JAMES & JAMES, consisting of John King James and his brother Arthur H. James, maintained a practise in New York City and in Kansas City, Missouri in the late 19th century. In 1888 they won the competition for the Board of Trade Building, Yonge Street at Front Street East, TORONTO, ONT., 1889-91; demol. c. 1960 (Globe [Toronto], 30 March 1889, 9, t.c.; C.A.B., ii, Feb. 1889, illus.; March 1889, 28, descrip. of winning design; W. Dendy, Lost Toronto, 1978, 6-7, illus.). Their scheme, submitted under the pseudonym of 'Two Circles' was cited as the best of nineteen designs sent in by Canadian and American architects but the juror, Prof. William R. Ware of Columbia University, found even their winning scheme to be deficient, noting that the exterior design was 'unsuitable and unsatisfactory' (C.A.B., ii, March 1889, 28). The final design as modified bore a striking resemblance to the Boston Chamber of Commerce Building, Milk Street, Boston, 1889-92, designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge.
The success of James & James in winning the competition for the Board of Trade Building prompted them to open an office in Toronto in January 1890, and they attempted to obtain other commissions both there and in Montreal. They were one of fifteen firms invited to submit designs for the Sun Life Assurance Building in Montreal in late 1889, but the jurors Wilm Knox, John Elliot and Beaumont Jarvis found their scheme to be lacking, and ".....not so well planned", with an entrance hall that was "....very faulty", and consequently awarded the First Prize to Robert Findlay of Montreal (Montreal Daily Star, 10 Dec. 1889, 8; C.A.B., iii, Jan. 1890, 5; and vol. x, Sept. 1897, plate illus.). They were awarded the 4th Prize of $100 for their effort. James & James also entered the competition for the Confederation Life Building in Toronto in 1890 and submitted a High Victorian design for which they obtained Second Premium (C.A.B., iii, March 1890, plate illus.)
J. King James and Arthur H. James are noted as 'Englishmen who opened their offices in New York about two years ago' (American Architect & Building News [Boston], xxv, 16 Feb. 1889, 81-2) but tender calls for the Board of Trade Building which appeared in Toronto newspapers requested that bids be submitted to their offices in both New York City and Kansas City, Missouri (Globe [Toronto], 30 March 1889, 9). Arthur H. James appears to have operated the Missouri branch of their office from 1887 onward; in October of that year they submitted a design in the competition for Grace Church, Kansas City (American Architect & Building News [Boston], xxii, 15 Oct. 1887, plate illus.) and in 1890 they were awarded sixth place for the entry in the competition for the City Hall, St. Louis, Missouri (C.A.B., iii, April 1890, 47). Their most striking work was the bold Romanesque Revival design for the Grand Central Railway Depot, Kansas City, 1891 (American Architect & Building News [Boston], xxxii, 16 May 1891, plate illus.). In New York City James & James entered the competition for the New York Coffee Exchange, 1890 but their scheme was not premiated (Architecture & Building [New York], xii, 7 June 1890, plate illus.) J. King James continued to practise in New York City until 1902 (J. Ward, Architects in Practice in New York City 1900-1940, 40). In Kansas City his brother became a partner in the firm of Guinotte & James after 1900, but no directory listings for their firm can be found after 1908 (inf. from Dennis S. Francis, New York City).