George Henderson (architect)

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George Henderson (3 October 1846 – 24 March 1905) was a Scottish architect.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Edinburgh, Henderson was the son of architect John Henderson and Hannah Matilda Exley. From 1858–1861 he attended the Royal High School, Edinburgh. He then studied architecture under his father, but his studies were cut short when his father died in June 1862. His education was completed under architect David Cousin who inherited his father's architecture firm.[1]

1906 photograph of Geelong College

In May 1867 Henderson emigrated to Australia to join Alexander Davidson's firm in Rokewood, Victoria. The two men had previously worked together as assistants to his father. Henderson lived with Davidson and his wife, and he initially worked for Davidson as an unpaid associate. Several large commissions in late 1868 helped catapult the venture into financial success which enabled Davidson to send money home to his family in Scotland. One of those projects was Barwon Park in Winchelsea, Victoria which is now a National Trust of Australia.

In early 1869 the two men relocated the firm to Geelong and in late 1869 a formal partnership between Davidson and Henderson was established with Henderson, as junior partner, receiving a third of the profits. In 1870 the two men notably designed and built oldest buildings for Geelong College. The next few years brought several financial hardships to the firm resulting from a series of unfortunate incidents, including disputes with contractors and a depression in the wool industry which effected the economy of Geelong. As a result Davidson and Henderson ended their partnership in December 1873. However, a new partnership was established between the two in July 1874 with Henderson receiving 4/9 of the profits.

In April 1876 Henderson and Davidson once again dissolved their partnership; this time permanently and on somewhat hostile terms. Henderson had been working largely as the firm's office manager and had overseen the costing of the jobs; work which left him little time for design which was his true passion. Unsatisfied with his position, he accepted an offer to become a partner to architect William Hay who had also trained under his father and had recently returned to Edinburgh after a highly successful career for many years as an architect in Toronto. He left Australia for Scotland a few months after dissolving his relationship with Davidson and in early 1877 formed an official partnership with Hay.

Henderson and Hay's practice in Edinburgh mainly consisted of building churches, both in Scotland and abroad. The two men notably designed the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Bermuda in Bermuda which was constructed in 1885. While Hay designed the majority of the structure; Henderson designed the eastern portion of the cathedral. He also assisted Hay in the restoration of St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh from 1878–1884. The two men worked together until Hay became seriously ill in October 1887. Hay died eight months later and Henderson took over the practice which he led until his own death seven and a half years later.

In 1897 Henderson married Mary Elizabeth Leith Malcolm. The couple had two daughters together: Elizabeth Stella and Amy Louise Huntly. He died in 1905 at 25 Hermitage Gardens in Edinburgh at the age of 58. He is buried in The Grange, Edinburgh.


Building Year Completed Builder Style Source Location Image
St. Giles' Cathedral 1872-1884 William Hay (architect) and George Henderson (architect) Gothic architecture Edinburgh, Scotland St Giles' Cathedral
Bermuda Cathedral, Hamilton 1885 William Hay (architect) and George Henderson (architect) Gothic architecture Hamilton, Bermuda Bermuda Cathedral, Hamilton


  1. ^ "George Henderson". The Dictionary of Scottish Architects.