James charles Cavanagh

Born: 1874, Beechworth, Victoria

Died:  6 May 1957, Adelaide, South Australia

Occupation: Architect

Hometown: Brisbane, Queensland


Born in Beechworth, Victoria, to Mary Josephine (nee Lyons) and John Charles Cavanagh, a building contractor, James moved with his parents to South Australia in 1881 when he was a child, and was schooled at Christian Brothers’ College in Adelaide.  

Like his brother Michael, James attended the School of Design at the South Australian School of Art for two years, after which he was articled to Michael. In 1895 James moved to Perth, Western Australia, where he lived in Colin Street, West Perth. The same year he entered into partnership with Michael in Messrs M F and J C Cavanagh (later Cavanagh and Cavanagh) with branches in Adelaide, Perth and Fremantle.

As Diocesan architects for the Catholic Church in Western Australia, James and Michael were responsible for many of Perth's grandest and most significant buildings, both Catholic and non-religious, including Christian Brothers' College on St George's Terrace, the Great Western Hotel (now The Brass Monkey) in 1896, the Esplanade Hotel and St Brigid's Convent (1898), Perth Fire Station (1900), the Redemptorist Monastery in North Perth and Foy & Gibson's, Perth (1903). 

Following closely on his brother’s studies, in 1905 James spent two years in London where he travelled and continued his architectural training. He returned to Perth but in 1918, with his sister Lucy, moved to Brisbane, Queensland. There he worked as a draftsman in the Queensland Public Works Department until 1920, when he established the Brisbane office of Cavanagh and Cavanagh. He then designed the same kind of significant buildings for which their firm was renowned.

After Lucy died in 1953 James retired to Tusmore, South Australia, where he died in 1957, aged 82. He was buried at West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide, near the graves of both his parents.