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MASEY, Francis Edward

Born: 1861 11 18
Died: 1912 09 03

Architect


FRIBA 1901; SASA 1902

Described as 'a splendid architect in his own right' (Greig 1970:208), Masey's abilities are obscured, as Greig observes, by the work of Herbert BAKER with whom he worked and was in partnership from 1896 until 1910. Francis Edward Masey was born in London. He was the third son of the architect Philip E Masey, the architect FW MASEY was his half-brother, and was articled to his father from 1875. In 1878 he entered the office of A Waterhouse where he remained until 1896. During this period he studied at the Royal Academy Schools and in 1887 was awarded the Soane Medal for his design of a city police court and police station. The prize money enabled him to study in Europe for a year and no details are yet available concerning this year. In 1888 Masey gained the Tite Prize and in 1889 and 1891 he won the Owen Jones student medals enabling him to visit France (1889) and Italy (1891). Johnson (1987:379) noted that Masey submitted 'Two sketches from Italy' which were published in The Building News, April 19, 1889. Masey was thus acquainted at first hand with continental and classical architecture before Baker was; this may have had an effect on their practice. Masey was to lecture eloquently on a variety of subjects in Cape Town, including Italian architecture.

In 1896 Masey came to South Africa on a three-year contract to the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in the Cape. The story is told he was informed an English architect was sick in hospital. Masey visited the sick architect, who was Herbert Baker, and offered to take care of his office - which, according to the story, had almost no work. A short time later Masey broke his contract with the PWD and joined Baker (1896). They worked, in the Grotto, on restoration plans for Groote Schuur for Cecil Rhodes. Frank Kendall joined them in 1897.

Among the first jobs which KENDALL remembered working on for many nights with Baker and Masey were the competition drawings for the City Club, Cape Town (1897), which they won. A partnership agreement between Baker and Masey was drawn up in 1899 and in 1902 Baker left for Johannesburg leaving Masey in charge of the Cape Town office with Kendall as a junior partner.

Kendall considered Masey 'a very remarkable man, in some respects a bit of a genius ... soon proved himself a very capable organiser with immense driving power, an artist to his fingertips with all the advantages and disadvantages of an imaginative brain' (Fassler Papers). Masey initiated and played a central role in drawing up the constitution for the proposed South African Society of Architects (SASA) in 1898. Proceedings, interrupted by the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War, were recommenced in 1901 as the Cape Institute of Architects, constituted in July 1902.

In 1904 Masey left for England for health reasons, leaving Kendall in charge of the office. The length of his stay in England is not known but he had returned by 1906 and was in charge of lecturing in architectural classes at the South African College. In 1906 he offered a prize for the best essay on an architectural subject, the prize being won by a pupil in his office, JM SOLOMON. HLG PILKINGTON, another pupil of Masey's, paid tribute to Masey's concern with architectural education in his obituary for Masey (African Architect, Oct 1912:69). In 1907 Masey was elected President of the Cape Institute of Architects, at the end of which year the Institute was affiliated with the RIBA. In the same year he approached the South African College Council about commencing an Art School in Cape Town, 'as a result of which he was asked to submit a scheme for the establishment of an Art School' (UCT BC 206:ii).

He helped found the National Society for the Preservation of Objects of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty in South Africa and was the active secretary of this society for several years. An enthusiastic antiquary, Masey contributed articles on historical subjects to several journals, including The State.

In May 1910 both his marriage to Menne Hellet and his partnership with Baker were dissolved. Masey left for Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). (The deed of dissolution of the partnership between Baker, Masey and Kendall is dated 6 May 1910.)

Apparently a pact had been made between Baker and Masey on the latter's departure for Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) whereby Baker had agreed to leave Masey a free hand in that country. Baker's breaking of this agreement a year later, when Masey's commission for the new Anglican Cathedral in Salisbury (Harare) was given to Baker, destroyed their already strained relationship. A bitter dispute followed: 'I gave you a free hand in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), with your ability you should have swept the board there' (BLB vol 19, 1911:51), wrote Baker to Masey. In August 1912 Masey commenced lawsuit against the cathedral building committee, but died of pneumonia in Salisbury (Harare), aged fifty-one, before any further proceedings took place.

Masey's style in South Africa has been largely submerged in the office style of Baker & Masey. Further research into drawings and plans of the office might reveal differences of approach more clearly and were acknowledged by Baker who, enquiring about the authorship of a certain school building and hearing that it came from his office, said 'it looks rather Masey-ish' (Greig 1970:208)

The Cathedral of St James in Maseru, Basutoland (1905) is attributed to Masey and Kendall noted that Mark's Building in Cape Town was Masey's: 'as to the National Mutual in Church Square and the Rhodes Building - Masey did all the original drawings, but Baker 'took over' the elevations of both buildings and improved them immensely' (Fassler Papers).

The South African Architect and Builder (Mar 1905:122) noted the residence Rust en Vrede for Abe Bailey at Muizenberg as 'a very interesting specimen of Masey's work.'

Credit for the design of both the Shangani Memorial (1898) and the Monument to the Honoured Dead at Kimberley (1904) was given to Masey the obituary for him (RIBA Journal (19 Oct 1912:750-1) written by Baker and Kendall.

Masey's work in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) casts light on his later style. Among the Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) buildings were the Salisbury (Harare) Club (c1911-12), (one of his last works and illustrated in The Builder (1 Jan 1912:8)), the Cathedral of St John (1910-13), the Museum building and the Government Buildings in Bulawayo and the Board of Executors' Building in Salisbury (Harare). The Cathedral apart, all the other buildings were designed in a colonial classical style, colonnaded, with tiled hipped roofs and court yards; in Salisbury (Harare) itself, Masey was known as the architect of courtyard houses in the short time he practised there. He undoubtedly left a legacy to architecture in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe); his work, although still submerged in partnership, supplied an important facet to the Baker tradition in Southern Africa.

Baker & Kendall designed the Masey Memorial Cross in Salisbury (Harare) between 1913 and 1914.

(Afr Archt Jul 1911:33; Afr Archt Oct 1912:69 obit; Arch Rev May 1912:266-9; Berman 1983; Baker Letter Books 1904-12; Brown 1969; DSAB III:586; FRIBA nom papers (1901) 17; Greig 1970; Kendall & Earle Gift. BC 206. UCT Libr; Radford 1979; RIBA Jnl 19 Oct 1912:750-1 obit; SAA&B Mar 1905:121; SAA&B Nov 1905:122; SAAE&S Jnl Dec 1905:23-4; SAWW 1911; SESA 7:255)

Publ: The life of the city, published in 3 parts: SAA&B Mar 1904:93-6, SAA&B Apr 1904:116-7, SAA&B May 1904:133; Secret commissions, corres SAA&B May 1904:133-4; South African College, Architectural students, SAAE&S Jnl Jul 1907:179; The beginnings of our nation: 23 Strand St (Koopmans de Wet house) The State, Feb 1909:190-4; The beginnings of our nation: Uitkyk, residence of Hon JW Sauer, MLA, The State, Apr 1909:412-7; The beginnings of our nation : 23 Strand St, pt 3 The State May 1909:557-65; The beginnings of our nation: Schoongezicht, residence of the Hon JX Merriman, The State, Jun 1909:652-8; The beginnings of our nation: 23 Strand St, conclusion, The State, Jul 1909:66-74; Tulbagh, publ in 2 parts, (1) The State, Sep 1909:304-10; (2) The State Oct 1909:417-24; Constantia and the Cloetes, The State, Jan 1910:97-111; Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) buildings and the central court, Arch Rev May 1912:266-9; Rhodesian buildings and the central court, CL in SA Apr 1915:28-31,ill, plan; Rhodes Building, Cape Town, Arch Rev vol xiv (date?*):131.

All truncated references not cited and linked below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books with reference to MASEY, Francis Edward

Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pp 129
HSRC. 1977. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume III. Pretoria: Tafelberg for The Human Sciences Research Council. pp 586-587
Keath, Michael. 1992. Herbert Baker: Architecture and Idealism 1892 - 1913: The South African Years. Gibraltar: Ashanti Pub. Ltd.. pp 42, 47, 51, 62, 66, 70, 76-77, 81-82, 91, 96-97, 101, 105, 107, 108, 109, 112-113, 123, 125, 129, 130, 132,136, 143, 146-149, 153-154, 157, 177, 181, 187-188
Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1972. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 7 Lit-Mus. Cape Town: Nasou. pp 229
Reps, John W. 1997. Canberra 1912 : Plans and planners of the Australian capital competition. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. pp 334-335
Walker, Michael. 2012. The early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations. St James: Michael Walker. pp 96-103

Chapters in books with reference to MASEY, Francis Edward

Wendland, W. MASEY, Francis Edward: in Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1972. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 7 Lit-Mus: pp 229
Wendland, W. Masey, Francis Edward: in HSRC. 1977. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume III: pp 586-587
Keath, Michael. The Baker School: A Continuing Tradition 1902-1940: in Fisher, RC, Le Roux, SW and Maré, E (Eds). 1998. Architecture of the Transvaal: pp 79, 84, 85

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