Morris, John

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MORRIS, John (1817-1904), born in Worcestershire, England in February 1817, and trained in London, England and was said to have had a friendship (perhaps as an apprentice) with Sir George Edmund Street, the leading Victorian architect in England. While working in London, Morris was nominated as a Fellow of the R.I.B.A. in 1852, and remained a member through 1857 when his membership lapsed. He was briefly in partnership there with Charles G. Hebson, but left for Canada in 1855.
His association with G.E. Street in London undoubtedly influenced his selection by Frederic Cumberland to be the Clerk of Works on the important commission for University College, Univ. of Toronto, 1856-59 (Douglas S. Richardson, A Not Unsightly Building: University College and its History, 1990, 74, 158, illus.). Upon completion of that job, Morris was lured to Ottawa where Thomas Fuller hired him as Clerk of Works on the competition-winning design for the Parliament Building, the centrepiece of the government complex in Ottawa. Morris played a role in developing the ten point judging system used to select the winning entries for the Parliament Building, the Departmental Buildings, and for Government House (Carolyn Young, The Glory of Ottawa, Canada's First Parliament Buildings, 1995, 65-6, 87, 108). In testimony before the Commission of Inquiry held in 1863, Morris testified that he had '...been engaged at the profession since the year 1837. I came to this province in 1855. In 1856 I was employed by Mr. [William] Thomas till the month of October 1856 when I was employed as clerk of works on the University Buildings until October 1859' (Canada, Sessional Papers, Dept. of Public Works, 1863, No. 3, Appendix, unpag.)
Morris moved to the United States after 1865 and was said to have been involved, likely as clerk of works, in the construction of the Cook County Court House (1872-85), built after the Great Fire in Chicago of 1871, and designed by James J. Egan. He also contributed to the construction (and, perhaps, to the design?) of the Court House in Lincoln, Nebraska (1876; demol.). While there he became a minister of the Episcopal Church, working with Sioux tribes and preaching in the Dakota territory, but by 1890 he had moved to eastern Washington State and worked as an architect in Grand Mound, Wash. where the name of 'Rev. John Morris' is noted as the architect for at least three Anglican churches, at Colfax, Pullman, and in Aberdeen, Wash. Morris died in Seattle, Washington on 12 May 1904 (biog. R.I.B.A., Directory of British Architects 1834-1900, 1993, 636; inf. David Powers, Salem, Oregon)

COLFAX, WASH., Good Samaritan Church, 1891-92 (Washington Churchman, April 1892, descrip.)
PULLMAN, WASH., Anglican Church, 1892 (Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Journal of Convocation, 1892)
ABERDEEN, WASH., Anglican Church, 1892 (Washington Churchman, Oct. 1892, descrip.)