Basic Biographical Details

Name: Ebenezer James MacRae
Designation: Architect
Born: 18 January 1881
Died: 15 January 1951
Bio Notes: Ebenezer James MacRae was born on 18 January 1881, 'a son of the manse'. His father was Alexander MacRae, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland and his mother was Annie Macrae. Somewhat surprisingly he was articled to the Roman Catholic Archibald Macpherson in 1899 and remained with him as draughtsman and assistant until December 1907. Macpherson, of whom he wrote in an affectionate memoir, was to remain a close friend for as long as he lived. During his time with Macpherson he studied at the School of Applied Art under Frank Worthington Simon from 1899 to 1904, concurrently attending Edinburgh University (1901-02) under Professor Gerald Baldwin Brown, and Heriot-Watt College (1901-07); from 1904 he attended the classes at the newly merged Edinburgh College of Art, including those in antique figure drawing, completing the course in 1906. During these early years he undertook sketching and measuring tours of York (1902 and 1904), Melrose (1904), Belgium (1905), Cambridge and Lincoln (1907) and Northamptonshire, Cambridge and Oxford (1907).

At the beginning of 1908 he moved to the office of John Kinross to spend six months assisting on his competition entry for the restoration of Kirkwall Cathedral, thereafter accepting a salaried post in the City Architect's Department under James Anderson Williamson. The following year, in collaboration with William Davidson who had been a fellow draughtsman in Macpherson's office, he exhibited designs for the furnishing and restoration of two Norfolk churches at the Royal Scottish Academy. Further collaborative designs were exhibited in 1911 and 1919, but the association between Davidson and MacRae appears to have been a loose one, as there is no evidence of a formal partnership having existed. He made additional tours of Paris in 1909, York in 1911, Norfolk in 1912 and Normandy in 1913.

MacRae was admitted LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911, proposed by James Bow Dunn and the Edinburgh Architectural Association; but with characteristic determination he passed the qualifying exam in 1914 and was admitted ARIBA late that year, his proposers this time being Macpherson, John Watson, one of the teachers at the School of Applied Art and at Edinburgh College of Art and Alexander Lorne Campbell.

In the First World War MacRae served with the Royal Engineers. He returned to the City Architect's Office in 1918, becoming Depute City Architect at some time prior to 1925 and succeeding Williamson as City Architect in July of the latter year. He was admitted FRIBA in 1934, proposed by Thomas Forbes Maclennan. Later that year he and Wilson were members of the Department of Health fact-finding team led by the Permanent Secretary John Highton which toured the continental housing estates in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Prague, Vienna and Paris. He compiled much of the analysis that appeared in the subsequent report which had a profound influence on local authority housing in the late 1930s.

MacRae was one of the pioneers of conservation. He renovated a number of Old Town buildings and where that was not practicable he rebuilt several facades in their original form. In his survey of the Old Town he was assisted by a newly qualified planner, William Dey, later of Gordon & Dey, and produced a policy report; and from that he proceeded to produce another policy document, 'The Heritage of Greater Edinburgh', which listed all the traditional buildings in the city which were worthy of retention, very much in parallel with the Marquess of Bute's lists for the country as a whole. A large collection of related papers is preserved in Edinburgh Central Library. His interest also extended to historic statuary, and he published an essay on the 'Lead Equestrian Statue of Charles II' in the Old Edinburgh Club Transactions.

MacRae retired in July 1946, but continued to be influential in a variety of fields, remaining a member of the RIAS Council until 1950. He had a particular interest in the Edinburgh Cripple and Invalid Children's Aid Society to which he gave generously of his time and money and was ornithologist, photographer and watercolourist, exhibiting at the RSA from 1915 until 1940. Several of the subjects record his travels in France c.1914 and Germany c.1930. John Ross McKay wrote of him that 'as an official he was easy of approach. His innate courtesy and charm of manner made it a pleasure to visit him...he was always ready to assist and never adopted the reserve of the official'.

He died on 15 January 1951 at the Deaconess hospital, Edinburgh, his home address then being Taprobane, Ratho. His wiife, Dorothy Craigie, survived him.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 59, Albert Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate After 1948 
Item 2 of 517, Braid Terrace Crescent, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1911 *  
Item 3 of 5Royal Exchange, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1930 or 1931 *1939 or after 1940 
Item 4 of 564, Frederick Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1934 *  
Item 5 of 5Taprobane, Ratho, Midlothian, ScotlandPrivate1950 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 7Archibald Macpherson1 June 18991903Apprentice 
Item 2 of 7Archibald Macpherson1903December 1907Assistant 
Item 3 of 7John KinrossJanuary 1908June 1908Assistant 
Item 4 of 7Edinburgh City Architect's Department (Edinburgh Corporation)June 1908c. 1914Assistantunder James Anderson Williamson, City Architect
Item 5 of 7James Anderson WilliamsonJune 1908c. 1914Assistantin Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 6 of 7Edinburgh City Architect's Department (Edinburgh Corporation)1918July 1925ArchitectDepute City Architect
Item 7 of 7Edinburgh City Architect's Department (Edinburgh Corporation)July 1925July 1946Chief ArchitectCity Architect

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 13Thomas William Leslie Dorrance19241929Apprenticein Edinburgh City Architect's Office
Item 2 of 13John Wright Ford1925After 1930AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 3 of 13Ion Victor Godfrey Hamilton Warner1926May 1928AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 4 of 13James Moffatt Aitken19281937AssistantTechnical assistant in Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 5 of 13Thomas William Leslie Dorrance1929After 1947Assistantin Edinburgh City Architect's Office; excluding war years
Item 6 of 13Robert Somerville Ellis19301940AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 7 of 13James Henderson1930After 1943DraughtsmanIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 8 of 13Alexander Garden Forgie1930July 1946 As Deputy Architect, in Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 9 of 13Peter Rice WhistonOctober 19301935ApprenticeIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 10 of 13Annie Nicol Turnbull (Mrs Hubbard)After 1932Before 1938Apprentice(?)Possibly assistant; working in Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 11 of 13James Archibald Tweedie1933 * AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 12 of 13William Gordon Dey19361937AssistantIn Edinburgh City Architect's Department
Item 13 of 13Elizabeth Fergus Comrie (Miss)September 1936July 1937AssistantIn City Architect's Office

* earliest date known from documented sources.


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 7James Alexander Arnott5 March 1934for Fellowship
Item 2 of 7Alexander Lorne CampbellLate 1914for Associateship
Item 3 of 7James Bow Dunn20 July 1911for Licentiateship - as president of Edinburgh Architectural Association
Item 4 of 7Thomas Forbes Maclennan5 March 1934for Fellowship
Item 5 of 7Archibald MacphersonLate 1914for Associateship
Item 6 of 7John WatsonLate 1914for Associateship
Item 7 of 7John Wilson5 March 1934for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 18James Moffatt Aitken8 March 1937for Associateship
Item 2 of 18John Shepherd Anderson7 July 1948For Licentiateship
Item 3 of 18Elizabeth Fergus Comrie (Miss)6 February 1939for Associateship
Item 4 of 18Eric Hutton Crosbee10 January 1938for Associateship
Item 5 of 18Thomas William Leslie Dorrance11 March 1947for Licentiateship
Item 6 of 18Robert Somerville Ellis12 February 1946for Licentiateship
Item 7 of 18James Macgregor Harvey7 May 1946for Licentiateship
Item 8 of 18Adam Bryce Kerr9 March 1936for Associateship
Item 9 of 18(Sir) William Hardie Kininmonth 6 April 1948for Fellowship
Item 10 of 18David Ebenezer Lang9 July 1946For Associateship
Item 11 of 18Alfred Hugh Mottram6 March 1939for Fellowship
Item 12 of 18James Allan Hugh Mottram (or James A H Mottram)12 December 1970For Associateship
Item 13 of 18George Clark Robb16 April 1940for Associateship
Item 14 of 18Stanley Patrick Ross-Smith14 December 1948for Associateship
Item 15 of 18Patrick McGowan Thompson10 February 1936for Associateship
Item 16 of 18Annie Nicol Turnbull (Mrs Hubbard)5 December 1938for Associateship
Item 17 of 18Ernest John Weir9 March 1936for Associateship
Item 18 of 18Peter Rice Whiston10 January 1938for Associateship

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 99 East Pilton housing estate, phase 2  EdinburghScotlandMacrae was the City Architect at the time of East Pilton's establishment.
Item 2 of 991903Our Lady of Loretto and St Michael RC Church, presbytery and hallMusselburgh MidlothianScotlandAs assistant to Archibald Macpherson
Item 3 of 991907Kirkwall CathedralKirkwallMainlandOrkneyScotlandCompetition tender for restoration - as assistant to John Kinross
Item 4 of 991909Church of St Agnes, rood screenCawston NorfolkEnglandDesign exhibited - in collaboration with William Davidson
Item 5 of 991909Church of St HelenRanworth NorfolkEnglandDesigns for restoration - in collaboration with William Davidson
Item 6 of 991909Gorgie Market, corn market, Corporation Slaughterhouse and police stationGorgie EdinburghScotlandAs assistant to James Anderson Williamson in City Architect's Office
Item 7 of 991920218-240 and 241-243 Ferry Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 8 of 991921Kilcalmonell Churchyard, War Memorial Gateway  ArgyllScotland 
Item 9 of 991926Gorgie Market, corn market, Corporation Slaughterhouse and police stationGorgie EdinburghScotlandAlterations and Extension
Item 10 of 991926Tram ShelterLeith EdinburghScotlandCity Architect
Item 11 of 991927Lauriston Castle, Stable Court  EdinburghScotland 
Item 12 of 991927Portobello Power StationPortobello EdinburghScotlandMacRae design built, absorbing first section by Williamson. (In 1931 workshops and stores added)
Item 13 of 991927Prestonfield Housing SchemePrestonfield EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 14 of 991927St Margaret's ParkCorstorphine EdinburghScotlandLaid out park
Item 15 of 991927Stenhouse Housing SchemeStenhouse EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 16 of 99192915-19 GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 99192940-42 Candlemaker RowOld Town EdinburghScotlandRestoration - as City Architect
Item 18 of 99192974-84 GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotlandRestoration
Item 19 of 991929Block of buildings, GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotland 
Item 20 of 991929Houses, Plainstanes Close, GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotlandRestoration - as City Architect
Item 21 of 991929Niddrie Housing EstateNiddrie EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 22 of 991929Old Harrow Inn  EdinburghScotlandRestoration
Item 23 of 991929Public LibraryCorstorphine EdinburghScotland 
Item 24 of 991929Richmond Place, West Richmond Street  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 25 of 991929 or 193046-48 Candlemaker Row  EdinburghScotlandRestoration - as City Architect
Item 26 of 991930sThe Pleasance  EdinburghScotlandRebuilding - as City Architect
Item 27 of 991930sWarehouses, DalryDalry EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 28 of 991930sWestfield TramwayGorgie EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 29 of 991930100-110 Canongate  EdinburghScotland 
Item 30 of 991930204 HousesSlateford EdinburghScotland 
Item 31 of 991930221-229 Canongate  EdinburghScotland 
Item 32 of 99193024 HousesGilmerton EdinburghScotland 
Item 33 of 99193025-29 Simon Square, 1-8 Howden Street and 55-59 East Crosscauseway  EdinburghScotlandDemolition and rebuilding
Item 34 of 99193039-43 Candlemaker Row  EdinburghScotlandRestoration - interior renewed
Item 35 of 99193074-96 West BowOld Town EdinburghScotlandRestoration
Item 36 of 991930Arcade of St John's and St Cuthbert's churchyards  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 37 of 991930Canongate Improvement Scheme  EdinburghScotland 
Item 38 of 991930Clarebank SchoolLeith EdinburghScotlandPavilion
Item 39 of 991930Corstorphine Improvement Scheme  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 40 of 991930East Pilton Housing Estate, layout and phase 1East Pilton EdinburghScotlandEdinburgh City Architect - responsible for layout
Item 41 of 991930Edinburgh Free Library  EdinburghScotlandAlterations
Item 42 of 991930Garage at Cleansing Depot  EdinburghScotland 
Item 43 of 991930Greyfriars Hostel  EdinburghScotland 
Item 44 of 991930Housing, Easter Road, Dickson Street and Marionville Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 45 of 991930Tollcross School  EdinburghScotlandExtension
Item 46 of 99c. 193028-36 Cowgate  EdinburghScotlandRestoration
Item 47 of 99c. 1930(?)50-54 Candlemaker Row  EdinburghScotlandShopfronts
Item 48 of 99c. 1930Gorgie Housing EstateGorgie EdinburghScotland 
Item 49 of 991930SGifford Park Housing  Edinburgh City Architect
Item 50 of 991931206-208 Canongate  EdinburghScotland 
Item 51 of 991931Bangour Village Hospital, Nurses' HomeUphall West LothianScotlandExtension
Item 52 of 991931Edinburgh Police boxes  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 53 of 991931Leith Academy and Technical CollegeLeith EdinburghScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 54 of 991931Leith PoorhouseLeith EdinburghScotlandConversion to Eastern General Hospital - as City Architect
Item 55 of 991931Pavilion and house at Ferry Road Recreation Ground  EdinburghScotland 
Item 56 of 991931Royston Mains Housing  Edinburgh  
Item 57 of 991931St Anne's RC School  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect - part restoration, part reconstruction
Item 58 of 991931St Cuthbert's Public SchoolGorgie EdinburghScotlandGym added - as City Architect
Item 59 of 991931St Leonard's Nursery  EdinburghScotland 
Item 60 of 991931Tractor Shed, Balcarres Street Depot  EdinburghScotland 
Item 61 of 991931Traffic lamps for Edinburgh T-crossings  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 62 of 991931Transformer House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 63 of 991931Transformer HouseNewcraighall EdinburghScotland 
Item 64 of 991931WashhouseLeith EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 65 of 991931Washhouse, Dumbiedykes  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 66 of 99193276 Morrison Street  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 67 of 991932Balgreen Primary School  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 68 of 991932Braidhills Golf Club, pavilion and tearooms  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 69 of 991932Craigmillar SchoolCraigmillar EdinburghScotland 
Item 70 of 991932Edinburgh City Chambers  EdinburghScotlandExtension of High Street frontage with W & E wings
Item 71 of 991932Housing Estate, New SaughtonNew Saughton EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 72 of 991932School in Niddrie Mains TerraceNiddrie Mains EdinburghScotland 
Item 73 of 991932Washhouse, Dalry  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 74 of 991932Watt Institution and School of Arts  EdinburghScotlandExtension - blocks fronting the Cowgate - as City Architect
Item 75 of 991933Barony Street, block of council housing on north west  EdinburghScotland 
Item 76 of 991933Edinburgh Thistle Golf Club  EdinburghScotland 
Item 77 of 991933Portobello Outdoor Swimming PoolPortobello EdinburghScotland'Development of Pool and Shelter'
Item 78 of 99After 1933Gogarburn Home for Mental Defectives  MidlothianScotlandTook over the project as City Architect and made additions including two children's villas (1936)
Item 79 of 991934Bangour Village AsylumUphall West LothianScotlandExtension
Item 80 of 991934Hall for Edinburgh Exhibition Association  EdinburghScotlandConverted to garage
Item 81 of 99193549 Buccleuch Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 82 of 991935Craigentinny Primary School  EdinburghScotland 
Item 83 of 99193628 West PortOld Town EdinburghScotland 
Item 84 of 991936Crewe Road North, Crewe Road Gardens Housing  Edinburgh  
Item 85 of 991936Edinburgh City Chambers  EdinburghScotlandInternal alterations - vestibule and stairhall, with panelling and stained glass
Item 86 of 991936Housing at Piershill  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 87 of 991936Tramway Depot Offices, Smith's Place  EdinburghScotland 
Item 88 of 991936West Pilton Housing SchemeWest Pilton EdinburghScotlandIn conjunction with Stewart Kaye
Item 89 of 991937St Francis RC Primary SchoolCraigmillar EdinburghScotlandAttribution in B of S - but this is an error
Item 90 of 9919383, 4, 5 St Patrick Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 91 of 991938Murrayburn Primary School  EdinburghScotland 
Item 92 of 991938Peffermill School  EdinburghScotland 
Item 93 of 991939City PoorhouseCraiglockhart EdinburghScotlandNew additions
Item 94 of 991939Ferry Road Housing, Edinburgh Corporation   Edinburgh  
Item 95 of 991939Holy Cross AcademyLeith EdinburghScotlandnew building
Item 96 of 991939Primary SchoolTanfield EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 97 of 991939Tenement, 174 Morrison Street  EdinburghScotlandAs City Architect
Item 98 of 999 April 1945Royal Mile Proposals  Edinburgh  
Item 99 of 99Early 1900sLamp standards, Great Stuart Street  EdinburghScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Johnson, Jim and Rosenburg, Lou2010Renewing Old Edinburgh: the Enduring Legacy of Patrick Geddes Glendaruel: Argyll Publishingp 151-157
Item 2 of 3RCAHMS1999Homebuilders: Mactaggart & Mickel and the Scottish housebuilding industry RCAHMSp 73, 75, 78, 82
Item 3 of 3RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Building IndustriesFebruary 1951  Obituary
Item 2 of 3RIAS QuarterlyMay 195184Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)p56 Obituary
Item 3 of 3RIBA JournalJuly 1951 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary p370

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Courtesy of Christopher GordonInformation sent to Dictionary Sent September 2011
Item 2 of 3H M Register HouseDeath Register  
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v19 no1443; A v22 no2543 (microfilm reel 22); F no3192 (box 18)