Mulligan, Charles Willer

MULLIGAN, Charles Willer ( 1845-1908), a leading architect in Hamilton, Ont. from 1875 until his departure in 1891. Born in Birmingham, England on 24 August 1845, he was educated there and in 1861, at the young age of 15, he was listed as an architect’s assistant in British census documents, but it is unclear who he trained under. Later, he may have had his own architectural practise in Birmingham, but by 1872 he had emigrated to the United States and shortly after moved to Toronto, where he is listed variously as “draughtsman” and “architect” in both editions of the 1873 and the 1873-74 Toronto City Directory. He then moved to Hamilton, Ont. where he opened an office under his own name in May 1875. Over the next fifteen years, Mulligan operated a successful practise, receiving commissions for educational, ecclesiastical, commercial, institutional and residential projects not only in Hamilton, but also in Galt, Whitby and as far away as Belleville, Ont. He was a capable and gifted designer who favoured the Renaissance Revival style, best seen in his designs for the twin-towered Jewish Synagogue, Hamilton (1880-81), and in his winning design in the competition for the Hamilton City Hall (1886). A full page perspective view of this proposal appeared in the Chicago architectural journal The Inland Architect (vii, July 1886, plate illus.) and the drawing was signed “W. Bryce Mundie, delt.” Mundie (1863-1939) was a young Canadian architect and native of Hamilton, Ont. who moved to Chicago in April 1884 and became a partner in the well-known firm of Jenney & Mundie. It is likely that Mulligan had employed Mundie as an assistant in his Hamilton office from 1880 to 1884.

Mulligan left Canada and moved to Chicago in July 1891 (Spectator [Hamilton], 6 July 1891, 1). In 1892 he was recorded in Chicago city directories as a draftsman working in an unnamed office located in "Suite 1120" in the Home Insurance Building on Lasalle Street (Chicago City Directory, 1892, 1078). This famous landmark building, designed by William Le Baron Jenney and built in 1884, happened to be the location of the architectural office of Jenney & Mundie, Architects in 1892, where they occupied offices on the 11th Floor, in the same Suite 1120 cited above (Chicago City Directory, 1892, 761). As a staff member in this office, Mulligan renewed his acquaintence with his young assistant from Hamilton, and he likely contributed to several projects by this leading firm from 1892 onward. By 1900, however, he appears to have changed his status to that of a construction supervisor or job site superintendent, and was employed by other architects in Chicago.

Mulligan continued to work as an architect and supervisor there, and at the time of his death in 1908 he had been employed as a construction superintendent at the site of the Lake Michigan Naval Training Station in nearby Waukegan, Illinois (Hamilton Herald, 21 Sept. 1908, 5, news item). This complex of thirty buildings were designed by the Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt (1863-1941). His last project was to supervise the construction of the Union Pacific Railway depot in Salt Lake City, built in 1907-08 and designed by D.J. Patterson., the staff architect with that railway company. Mulligan died at Salt Lake City, Utah where he had gone for a week “…for the benefit of his health”. He died there on 10 September 1908 and was later buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in that city (obituary Salt Lake City Herald, 15 Sept. 1908, 6; Deseret Evening News [Salt Lake City], 15 Sept. 1908, 5; Spectator [Hamilton], 16 Sept. 1908, 10; biog. Dictionary of Hamilton Biography, Vol. 2, 1991, 118; inf. Patrick Baird, Central Library, Birmingham, England; inf. Susan Glover Godlewski, Art Institute of Chicago).


HAMILTON CRICKET CLUB, pavilion and grand stand, 1875 (Spectator [Hamilton], 22 May 1875, 2, t.c.)
CANNON STREET PUBLIC SCHOOL, 1876 (Spectator [Hamilton], 12 June 1876, 2, t.c.)
ORPHAN ASYLUM & AGED WOMEN'S HOME, Wellington Street South at Hannah Street, addition, 1876; demol. 1959 (Hamilton Public Library, Minute Book of the Orphans & Aged Women's Home)
WENTWORTH COUNTY COURT HOUSE, Main Street East at John Street South, with laying out of Prince's Square around the Court House, 1878-79 (Spectator [Hamilton], 26 March 1877, 3, t.c.; 19 Aug. 1879, 1, t.c.; Illustrated London News, 1 Nov. 1879, 417-18, illus.; Mail [Toronto], 18 Nov. 1880, 8, descrip.)
McNAB STREET PREBYTERIAN CHURCH, addition of a Sunday School, 1878 (Spectator [Hamilton], 1 April 1878, 1, t.c.; 9 Oct. 1878, 1, descrip.)
J. MOODIE CO., King Street West, large store, 1879 (Spectator [Hamilton], 29 March 1879, 4, descrip.)
CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION [Anglican], John Street, gallery for the church and additions to the Sunday School, 1880 (Spectator [Hamilton], 30 April 1880, 1, t.c.; 18 May 1880, 4, descrip.)
JEWISH SYNAGOGUE, Hughson Street South at Augusta Street, 1880-81 (Spectator [Hamilton], 4 Sept. 1880, 4; 9 Aug. 1881, 1, t.c.; Canadian Jewish Review [Montreal], 27 March 1931, 12, descrip.)
HESS STREET SCHOOL, Hess Street facing Cannon Street, 1881-82 (Spectator [Hamilton], 8 June 1881, 4, descrip.; Hess Street School 1882-1974: A Pictorial History, 1974, 8, 10-12, illus.)
ST. JAMES REFORMED EPISCOPAL CHURCH, Hunter Street at Park Street, restoration, 1883 (Spectator [Hamilton], 2 April 1883, 1, t.c.)
ST. THOMAS ANGLICAN CHURCH, Main Street East at West Avenue, additions, 1883 (Spectator [Hamilton], 9 April 1883, 4, t.c.)
PRATT & WATKINS LTD., James Street North, additions and alterations to store, 1884 (Spectator [Hamilton], 6 June 1884, 1, t.c.)
LORETTO CONVENT, King Street West at Ray Street, addition and alterations, 1885 (Spectator [Hamilton], 17 Aug. 1885, 4, t.c.)
HAMILTON CLUB, Main Street East near James Street, additions and alterations, 1886 (Spectator [Hamilton], 16 Sept. 1886, 4, t.c.)
PICTON STREET SCHOOL, 1888; facade demol. in 1960 (inf. from the Hamilton Public School Board)
WENTWORTH STREET SCHOOL, 1889 (inf. from the Hamilton Public School Board)
HAMILTON BICYCLE TRACK & ATHLETIC CLUB, grandstand, 1889 (Spectator [Hamilton], 26 July 1889, 4, t.c.)


WHITBY, ONT., St. Mark's Methodist Church, Centre Street at Colborne Street, 1875-76 (Globe [Toronto], 10 June 1875, 4, t.c.; Whitby Chronicle, 12 Aug. 1875, 2, descrip.; 7 Sept. 1876, 2, descrip.)
BELLEVILLE, ONT., Methodist Episcopal Tabernacle, 1875-77 (Ontario Chronicle [Belleville], 26 Nov. 1875, 1; A. MacLean, Tabernacle Church-The First Hundred Years, 1977, 28-9, 38)
BARTONVILLE, ONT., St. Mary's Anglican Church, 1880 (Spectator [Hamilton], 24 June 1880, 4, descrip.; 10 Nov. 1881, 4, descrip.)
BURLINGTON, ONT., cottage for John Billings, 1883 (Spectator [Hamilton], 3 Oct. 1883, 1, t.c.)
BURLINGTON BEACH, ONT., additions and alterations to New York Skating Rink at the Ocean House Hotel, 1885 (Spectator [Hamilton], 24 Feb. 1885, 1, t.c.)
THOROLD, ONT., mansion for Hugh Keefer, 1886 (Thorold Post, 28 May 1886, 3, descrip.)
GALT, ONT., Opera House Block, Queen's Square, 1887 (Dumfries Reporter [Galt], 24 March 1887, 1, but incorrectly attributed to 'Mr. Milligan [sic] of Hamilton')


STRATFORD, ONT., High School, 1877. Mulligan was among thirty-four architects from the United States and Canada who sent in plans for this commission (Stratford Beacon, 5 Oct. 1877, 2). Mulligan's proposal was not a finalist, and the design by McCaw & Lennox was later declared winner.
ORANGEVILLE, ONT., Dufferin County Court House, 1879. Mulligan was one of several architects to submit plans but his scheme proved more costly than that of the winner Cornelius J. Soule (The Sun [Orangeville], 2 Oct. 1879, 2)
HAMILTON, ONT., Opera House, 1880. Three designs were sent in but the proposal by Mulligan was set aside in favour of the scheme by George H. Lalor (Spectator [Hamilton], 26 April 1880, 4)
HAMILTON, ONT., The Hamilton Club, Main Street East at James Street, 1882. Mulligan was one of four architects from Hamilton, Toronto and Buffalo, N.Y. who were invited to submit designs for the new home of the Hamilton Club. The eventual winner of the competition was Richard Waite (Mark Osbaldeston, Unbuilt Hamilton, 2016, 101-04, illus. & descrip.)
HAMILTON, ONT., City Hall, 1886. In January 1886 a committee of Hamilton City Council examined six sets of plans for the new City Hall and awarded the First Premium of $250 to Mulligan (Inland Architect [Chicago], vii, July 1886, illus. plate; Spectator [Hamilton], 19 July 1888, 4; Mark Osbaldeston, Unbuilt Hamilton, 2016, 86-87, illus. & descrip.;). His scheme was then shelved and another competition was held in July 1887 in which Mulligan collaborated with William Stewart on another design 'in the classic style of architecture' (Spectator [Hamilton], 13 Aug. 1887, 4, descrip.). They obtained 2nd Prize of $300 and James Balfour was awarded the commission.