james WILLIAM wright
Born: 9 October 1854, Chiswick, West London, England
Died: 3 October 1917, Perth, Western Australia
Occupation: Architect and Civil Engineer
Hometown: London, England
Wright grew up in London and completed studies in architecture and civil engineering at King’s College, University of London, before moving to South Australia in 1876 where he was an assistant engineer in the Chief’s Department. Wright then moved into private practice in South Australia between 1878 and 1881.
He returned to England briefly before moving to Perth in December 1881 where he was contracted to build the second stage of the railway between Guildford and Chidlow Wells.
Returning to Adelaide, in May 1884 Wright married Ada Light, an architect’s daughter, and brought her back to Perth where they settled in Cottesloe Beach (now Mosman Park). Here, later the same year, he established what is recognised as Western Australia’s first architectural practice in Alpha Chambers, Howick Street (now known as Hay Street), Perth. His first commission was Woodbridge House in Guildford, built in 1885 for Charles Harper, part-owner of The West Australian newspaper.
He was a founder of the original Architects’ Association and founding member of the West Australian Institute of Architects (later Royal Australian Institute of Architects). He later formed an architectural and engineering partnership with Thomas Walter Lloyd Powell and Alexander Duncan Cameron under the name J W Wright & Co which was situated in Moir’s Chambers on St George’s Terrace. Some of his other commissions include the Federal Hotel on Wellington Street (1896), St Luke’s Anglican Church in Mosman Park (1897) and the York Town Hall (1911).
In May 1902 Wright was elected to the Legislative Council for the Perth Metropolitan Region and served until he resigned in 1908.
Widowed in 1915 he died two years later aged just 62, with newspapers describing him as an all-round gentleman and good sport. He was survived by two of his three children; a son and a daughter.