McCaw, William Frederick

McCAW, William Frederick (1850-1923), active in a long succession of partnerships in both Canada and the United States including:

McCaw & Lennox, Toronto 1876-1881
McCaw, W.F., Toronto, 1881-82
McCaw & Burton, Portland, Ore. 1883
McCaw & Wickersham, Portland, Ore. 1884
McCaw, W.F., Portland, Ore. 1887-88
McCaw & Martin, Portland, Ore. 1889-1891
McCaw, Martin & White, Portland, Ore. 1892-93
McCaw & Martin, Portland, Ore. 1894-1897
Curlett & McCaw, San Francisco, 1898-99
McCaw, W.F., Houston, Tex., 1903
McCaw & Rue, Muskogee, Oklahoma 1905
McNally & McCaw, San Francisco, 1911-12

Born in Dublin, Ireland in March 1850, he and his family moved to Belfast in 1856, and at the age of twelve he took his first lessons in drawing at the Model School there. One of his childhood friends in Belfast was William Curlett, with whom he was to later form a partnership in San Francisco in 1898-99. At the age of fifteen, he took up the study of architecture with his father John McCaw who, it was claimed “…conducted an extensive business in architecture and building”, yet no reference to an architect with this name appears in the recently completed Dictionary of Irish Architects (now online). The younger McCaw left Ireland in 1872 and emigrated to Canada, settling in Toronto, Ont. and taking a position as a draughtsman in the office of William Irving, a prominent architect in that city.

While employed with Irving in 1873-75, he met another young architect who was working in that office, Edward J. Lennox, and both agreed to form a partnership in early March 1876. Their collaboration was immediately successful, and they received major commissions for educational, institutional, ecclesiastical and commercial buildings not only in Toronto but in several nearby towns in southern Ontario including Stratford, Cannington, Markham, Owen Sound and Unionville. They won the competition for laying out Queen’s Park, Toronto in 1876, and the following year, they were awarded First Premium in the competition for the new High School at Stratford, Ont. against 33 other entrants (list of competitors in the Stratford Beacon, 3 Oct. 1877, 2). Their partnership was dissolved on 21 October 1881, and McCaw worked briefly under his own name in Toronto in 1882 before leaving Canada and moving to Portland, Oregon.

In Oregon, he worked briefly for Warren H. Williams, and was later the lead architect in a succession of five different partnerships, and can be credited with several important landmarks there including the 8 storey Dekum Building, Portland (1891-92), a significant commercial block executed in a bold Richardsonian Romanesque style. McCaw left Oregon in 1897 and moved to San Francisco where he joined his childhood friend William Curlett in a partnership, but their collaboration appears to have been shortlived, and terminated in 1899. Although seemingly a talented and ambitious architect, he was, by all accounts, temperamental, unpredictable, and restless. In 1911 he sued his former business partner William Curlett, claiming he was owed more than $14,000 after the dissolution of their office in San Francisco in 1899 (report on lawsuit San Francisco Examiner, 30 April 1911, 88). After a divorce from his wife in 1897, McCaw practised in San Francisco, then in southern California (where he changed his name to “William Conway”). By 1903 he had moved to Texas, where he operated an office in Houston. In 1904 he had moved again, this time to Muskogee, Oklahoma. The catastrophe of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and the desire for architects to help rebuild the city, lured him back to the Bay Area, and he opened a new office on Fillmore Street in San Francisco in 1907 (Wm. T. Comstock, The Architects' Directory of the United States & Canada, 1907, 30). In 1911 he had formed yet another partnership in that city, this time with C.S. McNally, as McNally & McCaw, but it too lasted for only a brief period, and was dissolved within a year. By 1920 McCaw was living in Berkeley, and he later died near Fresno, Calif. on 18 April 1923 (death notice Fresno Morning Republican, 19 April 1923, 17; Fresno Herald, 19 April 1923, 3; biog. In H.K. Hines, An Illustrated History of the State of Oregon, 1893, 677; biog. Richard E. Ritz, Architects of Oregon, 2002, 277-78; inf. Edward H. Teague, Eugene, Ore.; inf. Melissa Scroggins, Fresno County Public Library)


(works in Toronto unless noted)

WELLESLEY PUBLIC SCHOOL, Wellesley Street West at St. Vincent Street, major addition, 1876; demol. (Globe [Toronto], 30 March 1876, 3, t.c.; 4 Dec. 1876, 3, descrip.)
OCCIDENT HALL, Queen Street West at Bathurst Street, for the Masonic Order, 1876; third floor and mansard roof removed c. 1950; remaining portion restored 2011-12 (Globe [Toronto], 15 May 1876, 3, t.c.)
QUEEN’S PARK, University Avenue north of College Street, layout and landscaping of the park, 1876. The City of Toronto staged a competition for proposals to lay out High Park, Queen’s Park and the Eastern Park. The design for Queen’s Park, submitted by McCaw & Lennox under the pseudonym “Manu Forti” was awarded the First Prize (City of Toronto, Council Minutes, Appendix of the Standing Committee on Walks & Gardens, 19 Jnue 1876, p. 211). No information has been found on whether any portion of their plan were implemented.
SCHOLES HOTEL, Queen Street West at Ossington Avenue, 1876 (Globe [Toronto], 12 Sept. 1876, 3, t.c.)
TORONTO CURLING & SKATING CLUB, Adelaide Street West near Peter Street, 1876; demol. (Globe [Toronto], 3 Oct. 1876, 3, t.c.)
YONGE STREET, near Maitland Street, row of six stores for an unnamed client, 1877 (Mail [Toronto], 2 May 1877, 2)
CALEDONIA CURLING & SKATING CLUB, Mutual Street near Dundas Street East, 1877; demol. (Globe [Toronto], 3 Aug. 1877, 3, t.c.; 13 Sept. 1877, 4, descrip.)
STRATFORD, ONT., High School, St. Andrew Street, 1878; demol. 1972 (Stratford Beacon, 12 Oct. 1877, 2; Globe [Toronto], 16 March 1878, 5, t.c.; Stratford Central Secondary School 1853-1979, 5-6, illus.)
PHOEBE STREET PUBLIC SCHOOL, addition of third floor, 1878; demol. (Globe [Toronto], 25 May 1878, 5, t.c.)
CANNINGTON, ONT., Knox Presbyterian Church, 1878 (Canada Presbyterian [Toronto], 15 March 1878, 305, descrip.; Mail [Toronto], 15 July 1878, 4)
ERSKINE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, Simcoe Street at Caer Howell Street, 1878-79; damaged by fire 1884; rebuilt by E.J. Lennox (Globe [Toronto], 2 Aug. 1878, 4, descrip.; Canada Presbyterian [Toronto], 22 Nov. 1878, 60, descrip.; Mail [Toronto], 28 July 1879, 3, descrip.)
BOND STREET CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, Dundas Street East at Bond Street, 1878-79; Sunday School 1887; damaged by fire and demol. 1981 (Globe [Toronto], 12 March 1878, 4, descrip.; Mail [Toronto], 5 Nov. 1878, 4, descrip.; 2 May 1879, 4, descrip.; J.R. Robertson, Landmarks of Toronto, iv, 1904, 480-3, illus. & descrip.; W. Dendy, Lost Toronto, 1993, 148-9, illus.)
MARKHAM, ONT., house, possibly for William Wood, Lot 1, Concession 5, 1878 (Globe [Toronto], 18 July 1878, 3, t.c.)
OWEN SOUND, ONT., High School, 1878-79; burned 1952 (Globe [Toronto], 21 Sept. 1878, 6, t.c.; re-tendered 12 April 1879, 7, t.c.)
UNIONVILLE, ONT., Congregational Church, 1879 (Globe [Toronto], 12 July 1879, 6, t.c.)
LACROSSE CLUB ARCH, King Street East at Toronto Street, a commemorative archway erected for the visit of the Governor-General, 1879; demol. (Mail [Toronto], 6 Sept. 1879, 6, descrip.)
TORONTO ISLAND, Hotel Hanlan, Hanlan's Point, 1879-81; burned 1909 (Globe [Toronto], 20 Dec. 1879, 7, t.c.; W. Dendy, Lost Toronto, 1993, 42-3, illus.)
SELBY STREET, near Sherbourne Street, row of three houses for an unnamed client, 1879-80 (Globe [Toronto], 20 Dec. 1879, 7, t.c.)
MARSHALL BLOCK, King Street West near Bay Street, 1880; demol. 1930 (Mail [Toronto], 3 June 1880, 4, descrip.)
YONGE STREET, at Breadalbane Street, two stores for an unnamed client, 1880 (Globe [Toronto], 11 Nov. 1880, 7, t.c.)

(works in Portland, Oregon unless noted)


UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHAPEL, SW 6th Ave. at Montgomery Street, 1884 (orig. drawings Oregon Historical Society, Portland)

McCAW, William F.

(with Harris & Hargreaves, Victoria) VICTORIA, B.C., The Union Club, Douglas Street at Courtney Street, 1884 (Victoria Daily Times, 18 June 1884, 3)
FORT VANCOUVER, WASH., Commanding Officer’s Quarters (now called Marshall House), 1886
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, Tenth Street at Alder Street, 1887-90 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 3 May 1887, 8, descrip.; 25 Feb. 1890, 8, descrip. of interior and organ case of the church)
NINTH STREET, at Montgomery Street, large residence for K. Durkheimer, 1887 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 11 May 1887, 3, descrip.)
REGIMENTAL ARMOURY, on the block bounded by C Street, D Street, 9th Street and 10th Street, 1887; demol. 1968 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 11 May 1887, 4, descrip.)
PORTLAND HEIGHTS, a large residence for Capt. Willard Young " the Colonial style", 1888 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 17 April 1888, 8, descrip.)
SKIDMORE BLOCK, First Street at B Street, a three storey commercial block "adjoining the block for N.J. Blagen", 1888 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 7 Aug. 1888, 6, descrip.; inf. Edward H. Teague, Eugene, Ore.)
SKIDMORE FOUNTAIN, First Street at Vine Street and A. Street, honouring Stephen G. Skidmore (died 1883), for Charles E. Sitton, 1888 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 15 Aug. 1888, 5)
GRACE METHODIST CHURCH, 10th Street at Taylor Street, 1888 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 30 Aug. 1888, 8, descrip.; Inland Architect [Chicago], xx, 1892, 20, illus.)
GILMAN HOUSE BLOCK, First Street at Alder Street, extensive addition of a new 4th floor, with 30 new rooms, 1888 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 6 Nov. 1888, 5, descrip.)
MULTNOMAH COUNTY COURTHOUSE, major addition of a new south wing, 1889 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 17 March 1889, 9, descrip.)


NEW MARKET ANNEX, SW 2nd Avenue, 1889 (Rosalind Clark, Oregon Style: Architecture from 1840 to the 1950’s, 1983, 99, illus. & descrip., but lacking attribution)
OREGON NATIONAL GUARD ARMOURY ANNEX (now the Gerding Theatre at the Armoury), NW 11th Avenue, 1890-91
SW YAMILL STRET, at King Street, residence for Howard Stratton, 1891
NW 20th AVENUE, at H. Street, mansion for Dr. Kenneth A.J. Mackenzie, 1891 (Morning Oregonian [Portland], 20 Feb. 1891, 5; 4 March 1891, 8; 14 March 1891, 9; Rosalind Clark, Oregon Style: Architecture from 1840 to the 1950’s, 1983, 96, 102, illus. & descrip., but incorrectly attributed to Whidden & Lewis; inf. Edward H. Teague, Eugene, Ore.)
DEKUM BUILDING, SW 3rd Ave. at Washington Street, 1891-92 (Rosalind Clark, Oregon Style: Architecture from 1840 to the 1950’s, 1983, 101, illus. & descrip.)
UNIVERSITY OF PORTLAND, West Hall, 1891-92 (Rosalind Clark, Oregon Style: Architecture from 1840 to the 1950’s, 1983, 100-01, illus. & descrip.)
UNIVERSITY OF OREGON, Medical Building, NW 23rd Ave. at Lovejoy Street, 1891-92; demol. (inf. Edward H. Teague, Eugene, Ore.)
BOISE, IDAHO, Falk Brothers Block, for David Falk and Nathan Falk, 1896; demol. 1982 (Jennifer Attebery, Building Idaho: An Architectural History, 1991, 56-7, illus. & descrip.; inf. Edward H. Teague, Eugene, Ore.)


(works in San Francisco, Cal. unless noted)

STEVENSON BUILDING (later renamed The Clunie Building), extensive reconstruction and remodelling of large office block, Montgomery Street at California Street, 1898; destroyed in the earthquake of 1906 (San Francisco Call, 5 Jan. 1898, 7, illus. & descrip.)
THE SAN JOSE THEATRE (later renamed The Victory Theatre), First Street near Market Street, 1898-99; burned 1965 (San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Jan. 1898, 22, illus. & descrip.)
PHELAN BLOCK, South Park at Third Street, 1899 (San Francisco Chronicle, 11 June 1899, 32, illus. & descrip.)
PUBLIC LIBRARY, Harrison Street at Brannan Street, 1899-1900 (San Francisco Call, 24 Dec. 1899, 20, illus. & descrip.)

McCAW & BELLIS (of Muskogee, Oklahoma)

TAHLEQUAH, OKLA., Carnegie Library, South College Street, 1905-07, won in a competition (Tahlequah Arrow, 6 May 1905, 1 July 1905; USA, National Register of Historic Places, 2003 - Oklahoma; inf. Edward H. Teague, Eugene, Ore.)

McNALLY & McCAW (of San Francisco)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF., large residence for an unnamed client, West Clay Street, in West Clay Park, 1912 (San Francisco Call, 6 April 1912, 19, illus. & descrip.; inf. Edward H. Teague, Eugene, Ore.)