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27,29,31 King Street, Including Railings

A Category A Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1488 / 57°8'55"N

Longitude: -2.0938 / 2°5'37"W

OS Eastings: 394422

OS Northings: 806436

OS Grid: NJ944064

Mapcode National: GBR SD2.FJ

Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.TL41

Entry Name: 27,29,31 King Street, Including Railings

Listing Date: 26 May 1977

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 354424

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB19983

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Description

John Smith and Archibald Simpson, begun 1818, with later additions, 1823-3 and 1840. 2-storey and basement, 12 bay Classical building comprising former Medico-Chirurgical Hall of 1818-20, County Records Office of 1822-3 and private house of 1840. Constructed as 3 separate buildings but forming visually coherent unit (see Notes). Central advanced pedimented section with asymmetrical flanking units, that to left with 7-bays, to right with 3 bays. Grey granite ashlar to street (E) elevation, rubble to rear. Some base and band courses, cill course, deep eaves cornice, blocking course, balustraded parapet to far left. Deep-set windows to ground, some with aprons, some segmental-arched to left.

Predominantly 12 and 15-pane timber sash and case windows. Grey slate, coped gable stacks.

RAILINGS: Cast iron decorative railings to front (E), including stair rail and gates.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: No 29; Archibald Simpson, 1818-20. Symmetrical 3-bay former Medico-Chirurgical Hall with giant tetrastyle Ionic portico and shallow steps. Flanking giant Doric pilasters. Central timber entrance door with simple moulded granite architrave.

No 27: John Smith, 1822-3. Asymmetrical, former County Record Offices, in 2 separate, but physically linked sections. Recessed 3 bays with basement linked by flat-roofed single storey entrance porch with 4-panel timber door, round-arched doorway and semicircular fanlight to balustraded 3-bay building. Advanced end bays with flanking pilasters. Central window to ground with consoled bracket above. Single storey arched opening to left.

No 31: circa 1840. Asymmetrical 3-bay townhouse with stairs oversailing basement to entrance at left. 4-panel timber entrance door with rectangular coloured glass fanlight above. Pair of piended dormers. Tall round arched stair window to rear.

INTERIOR: original room plans largely extant to Nos 27 and 31. 4-panel timber doors. No 27 with dog-leg stair in entrance hall, dentilled cornicing, simple fire surrounds to upper room. No 29 with decorative cast iron balustrades to staircases. Corinthian columns to hall. Barrel vaulted basement rooms. Nos 27 and 29 connected internally. No 31 with good decorative scheme. Ground floor converted to form small theatre. Arcaded hallway. Stained glass stair window. Geometric floor tiles at entrance hall. Some good decorative ceiling and cornice plasterwork to hall and drawing room. Some deep decorative skirting

Statement of Interest

Nos 27, 29 and 31 King Street form a crucial and important row at the beginning of King Street and are a critical part of the 19th century planned streetscape of Aberdeen. Despite three different architects and three different dates, the buildings form a coherent design and assume the appearance of one building with a central classical portico and two wings, and a separate building to the far left.

The Medico-Chirurgical Hall (No 29), with its dominant giant Ionic portico was the first building on this side of King Street and was the first important granite design by renowned architect Archibald Simpson. It is a good example of Greek Revival architecture and forms the crucial determiner of the subsequent surrounding architecture. In order to assure its dominance and importance in the streetscape, the feus for the land on either side of the building had a condition that they would be set back from the line of the Hall.

No 27 ( the former County Records Office) was built to a particularly inventive design as Smith created a structure in two distinct sections, one forming the apparent left wing to the nos 29 and 31.

Built as a private residence for the advocate and Lord Provost of Aberdeen, John Webster, No 31 King Street was added to the North side of the Medico-Chirurgical Hall in 1840. Although the building has had some internal alteration due to change of use, it still retains a good proportion of its original room plan and some very good decorative cornicing and plasterwork. From 1956-1968 it was used as a children's theatre.

The Medico-Chirurgical Society was founded in 1789 as the Aberdeen Medical Society by 12 doctors. Founded 'for their mutual improvement in prosecuting their studies by holding weekly meetings', the Society changed its name in 1811. The Hall was built to house the valuable collection of books that the members had accumulated.

For a further description on the development of King Street, see Notes for 7 and 9 King Street.

Archibald Simpson (1790-1847) and John Smith (1781-1852) were the primary architects involved in designing the expanding nineteenth century city of Aberdeen. Simpson, a native of Aberdeen, practised predominately in the North East of Scotland. He designed many of the important works in the city. Smith established himself in architectural practice in the city in 1804. He became the Master of Work in 1824 and designed many of Aberdeen's public buildings, showing an expertise in working with granite.

Part of B Group with 5 Castle Street, Nos 1-56 (inclusive nos) King Street and St Andrews Episcopal Cathedral.

No 31 King Street is linked externally to Aberdeen Arts Centre (see separate listing) by a 1st storey corridor.

Nos 29 and 31 were previously listed together as Category A. No 27 was previously listed at Category B.

27 and 29 are currently used as offices (2006).

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