Alfred Bossom

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Alfred Bossom in 1929
Magnolia Hotel, Dallas, Texas, 1922

Alfred Charles Bossom, Baron Bossom FRIBA (6 October 1881 – 4 September 1965) was an English architect active in the United States, and Conservative Party politician.

Architectural career[edit]

Bossom was born in Islington, London, to Alfred Henry and Amelia Jane (Hammond) Bossom. He was educated at Charterhouse St. Thomas School, and studied architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic and the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1903 he left for the United States to work for Carnegie Steel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked on the restoration of Fort Ticonderoga in 1908.

In 1910, he married Emily, daughter of New York City banker, Samuel Bayne, and they had three sons. As an architect with offices at 680 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, Bossom specialized in the efficient construction of skyscrapers. While based in New York City he designed a number of major works in Texas, including the American Exchange National Bank (1918). Bossom's Dallas work on the Maple Terrace Apartments (Dallas, Texas) (1924–25), and the expansion and renovation of the Adolphus Hotel, were done with local architects Thomson and Swaine. After traveling into Mexico, Bossom became a proponent of Mayan Revival architecture, clearly reflected in the stepped-back tower and ornament of his 1927 Petroleum Building in Houston.

Bossom also designed a number of large houses. Examples include the Henry Devereux Whiton house in Hewlett, New York, additions to the Joseph Harriman house in Brookville, New York, and the remarkable Edward Howland Robinson Green estate in Round Hill, Massachusetts.

He also invented a device for protecting people from suffocating if they accidentally got locked in a bank vault.[1]

A number of architects began their careers in his offices. Samuel Juster and Anthony DePace met in these offices, later founding the firm of DePace and Juster; DePace went from Bossom's skyscraper work to become project manager at Cass Gilbert's offices, project managing the New York Life Building.

Return to England[edit]

At the height of his career in 1926, Bossom returned to England with his family, determined that his children should be educated there. Entirely detached from his architectural career, he began a new life of public service and was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Maidstone at the 1931 general election. He held the seat until he retired from the House of Commons at the 1959 general election, having taken time out during World War II to serve in the British Home Guard. In 1932, Bossom's wife had died in an aircrash,[2] and he was remarried to another American, Elinor Dittenhofer in 1934, but they were divorced in 1947.

In 1953 he gave away Margaret Roberts at her marriage to Denis Thatcher; later Margaret Thatcher (as she became) was Britain's first female Prime Minister (1979–1990).

In 1952, he was made an honorary Doctor of Law by the University of Pittsburgh. In 1953, he was made a baronet, of Maidstone in the County of Kent. In 1960, he received a life peerage as Baron Bossom, "of Maidstone in the County of Kent". In 1965, Bossom died in London, and as his title was a life peerage, it became extinct upon his death, although his hereditary baronetcy passed to his only surviving child, Clive (his eldest and youngest sons had died in 1932 and 1959 respectively).[2]

Bossom was also president of the Anglo-Baltic Society. Winston Churchill joked, when introduced to Bossom, "Who is this man whose name means neither one thing nor the other?"

Architectural designs[edit]

Selected works[edit]

  • An Architectural Pilgrimage in Old Mexico, Charles Scribner's, 1924.
  • Building to the Skies: The Romance of the Skyscraper, 1934.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Dennis Sharp, ed., Alfred C. Bossom's American Architecture, 1903-1926, London: Book Art, 1984.
  • Robert B. MacKay, Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940, W. W. Norton & Company, 1997. ISBN 0-393-03856-4.
  • The Handbook of Texas Online


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Carlyon Bellairs
Member of Parliament for Maidstone
19311959
Succeeded by
John Wells
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Maidstone)
1953 – 1965
Succeeded by
Clive Bossom