Frank Wills (architect)

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Frank Wills
Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton, New Brunswick (2005).jpg
Christ Church Cathedral in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Born December 1822
Exeter, England
Died 22 April 1857
Montreal, Quebec
Occupation Architect
Buildings -Christ Church Cathedral
-Episcopal Church
of the Nativity

-Christ Church Cathedral

Frank Wills was a British-born architect who is associated with the design of early Gothic Revival churches in North America.


Frank Wills was born in Exeter, Devon England in 1822, where he started working under John Hayward,[1] he was a member of the Exeter Architectural Society, and his first known work is a canopied tomb in Gothic style beside the high altar in St. Thomas' Church in Exeter. In 1842, Wills exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.[2] He emigrated to New Brunswick in 1845 to work on Christ Church Cathedral in Fredericton. He modelled it on St. Mary's Church in Snettisham, Norfolk. He moved to New York City and began an architectural firm in late 1847 and married Emily Coster in 1848.[3] He became associated with the New York Ecclesiology Society and soon was the official architect for that group. In 1850 he published Ancient Ecclesiastical Architecture and Its Principles, Applied to the Wants of the Church at the Present Day.[4] Emily died in that same year. In 1851 he took a partner into his firm, Henry Dudley who had also worked under Hayward in Exeter. He remarried to Almy Warne Casey in November 1853, she was the daughter of the Philadelphia iron merchant James Casey. They had one son, Charles James Wills. Frank Wills died suddenly in Montreal in 1857, where he was working on Christ Church Cathedral.[3]


Selected works by him or his firm include:[4]

Also, based on similarities, three other churches are believed to be from his firm:[4]


  1. ^ Architecture of the Old South: Greek Revival & Romantic Volume 2 of Architecture of the Old South, Van Jones Martin. ISBN 0-88322-034-2, ISBN 978-0-88322-034-4
  2. ^ "Wills, Frank". "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online". Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Wills, Frank (1822–1856)". "Philadelphia Architects and Buildings". Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  4. ^ a b c R. Gamble; Harvie Jones; Frances Roberts (21 July 1989). "National Landmark Nomination: Episcopal Church of the Nativity" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying 7 photos, exterior and interior, from 1989. (1.59 MB)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 April 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2013.

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