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Latitude: 57.1515 / 57°9'5"N
Longitude: -2.1207 / 2°7'14"W
OS Eastings: 392796
OS Northings: 806737
OS Grid: NJ927067
Mapcode National: GBR S87.XZ
Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.DHCZ
Entry Name: 57 Thomson Street, 'Monte Rosa Cottage', Including Boundary Walls
Listing Date: 8 October 2003
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 397046
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49509
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Midstocket/Rosemount
Traditional County: Aberdeenshire
John Morgan, 1878-1880. 2-bay, single storey and attic semi-detached L-plan asymmetrical cottage situated at end of terrace. Coursed squared rough-faced granite to principal and left section of side elevation; predominantly random granite rubble with squared margins and quoins to rear. Base course. Predominantly irregular fenestration.
E (FRONT) ELEVATION: to far right, rounded corner terminated just below eaves by moulded stop-chamfer; arris above. To ground floor: to left, bipartite window with recessed apron and consoled cornice; to right, canted bay window with dentilled cornice and truncated piended roof. To right, recessed piend roofed entrance porch with deep granite base course and timber-framed glazing above; timber-panelled door with letterbox fanlight and margin lights to E end; timber and glazed door with fanlight and margin lights to W end. Eaves course. To attic storey; to left, piended dormer with dentilled cornice; to right, rising from roof of ground floor bay window, canted piended dormer with dentilled cornice and foliate finial. Orb sculpture surmounting skewputt to right.
N (SIDE) ELEVATION: asymmetrical elevation with 3-bay advanced gable to left, 2-bay central section and slightly recessed single-bay section to right. To left section: 1st floor lintel course; to eaves to right, shaped horizontal section; to apex of gable, band course with blind arch to centre. To ground floor to far left, window with recessed apron and consoled cornice; to centre, entrance porch (see above); inside porch, timber-panelled and glazed door with coloured square quarries and 2 roundels featuring the initials 'JM' and the words 'Monte Rosa Cottage'; dentilled corniced doorpiece; letterbox fanlight; flanking margin lights; to right of porch, bipartite window; above, recessed date stone featuring initials 'JM' and date '1879'. To 1st floor: to centre, tripartite window of round-headed openings; keystone to central opening; bipartite window to right bay. To central section: to ground floor to right bay, bipartite window. To 1st floor, narrow window to left bay; to right bay, canted panelled and moulded timber oriel window with brattishing and stylised dog supporting bracket. To right section; blank to ground floor; to 1st floor, timber and glazed conservatory (see below).
W (REAR) ELEVATION: to left, very advanced section; to ground floor, to left, timber-boarded door, to right, bipartite window; to first floor, timber-framed glazed conservatory with timber-panelled base and semi-pyramidal corrugated plastic roof (see Notes). To right, timber veranda with ornamental spandrels; window to ground floor; piend-roofed canted dormer to roof.
S (SIDE) ELEVATION: to left, slightly recessed, blank to ground floor with conservatory to 1st floor (see above). To centre, single window to ground floor; to 1st floor, piend-roofed timber oriel window.
GLAZING etc: predominantly non-traditional uPVC windows. Plate glass in timber sash and case windows to ground floor left bay to front elevation and oriel window to N elevation. To oriel window to S elevation, square quarries in timber frames, with small stained glass panels to top lights. Pitched roof; graded grey slates; stone skews and skewputts; brattishing to ridge. Corniced gable-head stacks to N and W elevations; mutual corniced ridge stack to S; predominantly octangular cans. Some cast-iron rainwater goods; to N elevation, cast-iron down-pipe with ornamental gargoyle style hopper.
INTERIOR: to ground floor: hall; wooden panelling to dado height; distinctively designed panelled doors; timber framed mirror featuring gilt lettered Burns quote; reeded architraves with rosettes to corners; running round room immediately above lintels, pelmetted wooden shelf; dentilled cornice; shallow relief pattern to ceiling. To front room (N), timber chimneypiece with squat colonnettes; slender collonnettes with roll moulded bases and capitals to wall press and window; picture rail; ornate ceiling cornice. To front room (S), deep skirtings; bracketted shelf at dado height; to left, classical pilastered and corniced mirror frame with 7 gilded roundels to base containing Shakespeare quote; below, timber panels containing a series of Minton glazed tiles depicting the Seven Ages of Man; to opposite side of room, chunky pilastered oak chimneypiece with 3 Minton tiles from Moyr Smith's Idylls of the King series alternating with gilt roundels containing quotation from the Book of Job; encaustic tiled hearth; flanking chimney breast, high level shelves with carved hoods (formerly glass fronted bookcases) with gilded roundels containing quotations from Cowper, beneath which are written the names 'Tennyson', 'Shakspere' (sic) and 'Ruskin' to the left shelf and 'Burns', 'Carlyle' and 'Scott' to the right shelf; to window, timber panelled soffit; panelled and mirrored mullion; moulded cornice with gilded paterae; coffered ceiling with stylised floreate bosses and painted and gilded stylised floreate decoration to the caissons (see Notes). To rear room (S), classical timber chimneypiece with inset Minton Hollins tiles from Moyr Smith's Shakespeare series to each side and tiles (probably Minton) depicting Greek myth to lintel; on inside of door to wall press to right press to right, Wordsworth quote painted black on gilt. To staircase and 1st floor landing: dog-leg timber stair with turned balusters and square carved newels with acorn finials; to ground floor, lintel above stair with angel-face corbels; to 1st floor, lintel above stair with foliate corbels; moulded ceiling cornice; to bipartite window to second flight, squat Corinthian column dividing lights. To half-storey room to rear, door and architrave as in hall, door features wooden plaque with painted portrait of John Morgan; classical timber chimneypiece; timber panelling to reveals of both oriel windows; slender colonnettes with roll moulded bases and capitals to N facing oriel; etched glass to small window to S wall; moulded ceiling cornice; leading to conservatory, timber and glazed door with shallow relief plaster panels thought to depict Shakespearean scenes. To 1st floor, front room (N), classical painted timber chimneypiece with carved floreate bosses, floral design embossed tile panels to sides and embossed tiles above depicting Pax and Bellum; timber panelling to lower part of bay window with flanking newels; moulded cornice.
57 Thomson Street is a unique and idiosyncratic example of the work of one of the most prominent master builders in Aberdeen in the second-half of the 19th century. Its interior is very well preserved and finely detailed, giving insight not only into the tastes of Morgan, but also celebrating some of the principal literary influences of the Victorian age.
John Morgan (1844- circa 1906) was an important Master Builder and contractor with a well-established firm in Aberdeen. He began his career apprenticed to his uncle, Adam Mitchell, whose service he entered in 1862. When Mitchell died in 1877, Morgan took over the running of the business on behalf of his uncle's dependants. In 1893, this arrangement dissolved and the firm became wholly Morgan's concern. The firm was involved in many prestigious contacts in Aberdeen, including Marischal College, the Joint Station, the new Grammar School and speculative development at Rubislaw Den.
In 1878, Morgan built a terrace of cottages on Thomson Street, and chose to make the end of terrace cottage, overlooking Victoria Park, a home for himself and his family. The quirky detailing of the exterior features clearly signals the additional personal attention which Morgan put into the design of the house. In his memoirs, he wrote: '?.I built for myself a six-roomed cottage, overlooking the Victoria Park, and to this we removed in the Spring of 1880.
This was a pretty little House in a fine, open, airy situation, and our living rooms being for the first time on the ground level, was a great comfort to my wife and children, and here we remained till 1887 when circumstances justified our removal to our beautiful Home in Queen's Road ? Rubislaw House [50 Queen's Road; see separate listing].'
Morgan was something of an intellectual, particularly interested in poetry, and an avid collector of books. These interests are strongly expressed in the interior of 57 Thomson Street. Of Carlyle, Ruskin and Tennyson he said that 'Apart from my immediate surroundings and personal associates, [these] three men, paramount in the life and literature of the hastening century, have done more to mould my conduct, and shape my destiny, than all others?..' Morgan even had correspondance with Ruskin and Carlyle. It is no doubt these interests that influenced the strong literary theme of many of the interior details of the house.
The painted ceiling to the front room (S), may have been the work of the studio of Daniel Cottier, whom Morgan may have known through a mutual friend, William Angus, who wrote a bibliography of Burns.
The roof of the 1st floor conservatory is not original; the line of the original roof, and its finial, can be seen on the gable.
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