Also referred to as WILSON, Willam Street.
In his ARIBA nomination papers (1882) STREET-WILSON's name is spelt without a hyphen; it is also spelt without a hyphen on early drawings and office correspondence, mostly before 1907. However, his name is so frequently spelt with a hyphen that it is the style chosen here. From about 1890 STREET-WILSON was among the busiest architects in Natal. An astute businessman and a more than competent architect, over a period of fifty years he (with his various partners) executed many of the larger buildings in Natal.
STREET-WILSON was born in Surrey where he was educated, continuing his studies at London University. From 1871 to 1875 he was articled to WM Gwyther of the Strand, London and was an assistant in the office until 1877, attending classes at the South Kensington Schools and lectures at King's College, London. For six months he worked in 'Mr Armstrong's office' before entering the office of J MacVicar Anderson in 1878 where he stayed for about two years. In 1880 he left to work in Robert Hesketh's office in London and spent two-and-a-half years as an assistant in this office. He was employed in Charles J Shoppee's office from 1882, continuing his studies at the Royal Academy Schools and at the British Museum, and visited Italy for three months. While in Shoppee's office he was elected a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and left to set up his own practice in 1884 in Newbridge Street, London. Recent research into the work of one William Wilson shows a possibility that, probably after serving as assistant in Gwyther's office, STREET-WILSON (William Wilson's mother's maiden name was Street), if one and the same as William Wilson, may have designed a house for the painter TM Rooke (No 7 Queen Anne's Gardens, Bedford Park in London) and another for JF Palmer in Blenheim Rd, Bedford Gardens in the same year, both in the Arts and Crafts style which was a style he used in South Africa.
After a severe illness STREET-WILSON was ordered abroad. He left for South Africa in April 1887, coming to Natal, where he was employed by the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT for six months before starting practice on his own account in Durban in 1887. Kearney suggests (1973:75) that Street-Wilson may have taken over the practice of PM DUDGEON who returned to England in 1888, providing a fair start to his career and an able replacement for Dudgeon. Until 1889 Street-Wilson was based in Pietermaritzburg but by 1889/1890 the RIBA Kalendar gave his address as 'c/o Post Office, Durban', a date coinciding with his first recorded works in Natal. He entered into partnership with PM BARR in 1888 (cf STREET-WILSON & BARR) and in 1891 they won the competition for the Pietermaritzburg town hall, their first major work. The practice continued until BARR's death in 1893.
In 1894 STREET-WILSON went into partnership with A FYFE (cf STREET-WILSON & FYFE) which lasted for three years until FYFE opened his own practice in 1897. For several years after this Street-Wilson worked alone, assisted by J Wallace PATON. In about 1906 he invited Wallace Paton into partnership (cf. STREET-WILSON & PATON), noting the event in applying for Fellowship of the RIBA 'for the last six months I assumed my old pupil and late assistant J Wallace Paton as partner in my firm'. The earliest drawings on which both names appear as partners were for the Church of St Thomas in Musgrave Road, Durban (plans for this building were begun as Street-Wilson & Fyfe in 1899, and the drawings date over a period 1900 to 1905) so the partnership seems to have begun late in 1905, continuing until STREET-WILSON's death in 1928.
According to Hillebrand (1975:205) Street-Wilson 'was undoudtedly the most prolific architect of the period' (in Natal) and left a respectable body of work behind him, reflecting the style of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Street-Wilson's wife, Anna Karlson, died in March 1927 and thereafter his health deteriorated. Although, according to his nurse and sole companion, he 'intended to live another twenty years' (NAD MSCE 13517), he died fifteen months later at his home at 97 Windmill Rd, Berea in Durban.
The practice of STREET-WILSON & PATON was continued by Wallace Paton in Durban and after his death in 1928 continued under the style of PATON, TAYLOR, WILLIES & BENNET.
ARIBA London 1882; FRIBA Durban 1906; Founder Member NIA 1901. (AB&E Jul 1928:15 death notice; ARIBA nom papers (1882) 43; FRIBA nom papers (1906) 1125; Greaves 1990 corres UNSAL; NAD MSCE 13517; PTW&B; Restorica Jun 1977:35; SAAR Sep 1928:74-5 obit; SAB Jul 1928; UNSAL)
All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.