Witton, William Palmer

WITTON, William Palmer (1871-1947) was the son of Henry B. Witton, a prominent Hamiltonian and local Member of Parliament. Born in Hamilton in 1871 he attended public school in that city and served his architectural apprenticeship both in Hamilton and in Chicago where he worked for two years with the renowned firm of Adler & Sullivan in 1893-94 (Spectator [Hamilton], 15 July 1896, 9). He returned to Hamilton in 1895 and opened an office there in March (C.A.B., viii, April 1895, 53) and within a few months had received a major commission to dramatically transform the old Royal Hotel into an opulent Beaux-Arts landmark with marble staircases and a skylit foyer surrounded by open galleries. His keen interest in the monumental qualities of the Beaux-Arts style was also evident in his elaborate design for a Triumphal Arch to commemorate the visit of the Duke of York to Toronto, which Witton submitted in competition in 1901 and for which he received Third Prize (C.A.B., xiv, Aug. 1901, 151, descrip. and plate illus.). One of the staff members in his office who was employed as a draftsman during the period of 1902 to 1904 was W. Grayson Brown (City of Hamilton Directory, 1902, 189).

In early 1904 he and William W. Stewart formed a partnership in Hamilton (see list of works under Stewart & Witton). They opened a branch office in nearby Brantford (Spectator [Hamilton], 23 April 1904, 1). They developed a specialty in the design of school buildings in Hamilton and surrounding communities. The untimely death of Stewart, who was killed in action in WWI, led to the dissolution of the firm in April 1917, and Witton continued to work on his own until June 1920 when he invited William J. Walsh, a draftsman in the firm of Stewart & Witton, to form a new partnership with him. They continued to work together until 1927, but Witton's debilitating problems with increasing deafness may have led him to terminate their relationship and close their office. He continued to work on his own until 1932, then formed another partnership with William H. Holcombe. Witton retired in 1937 and sold his share of the business to Holcombe.

Witton was a passionate bibliophile who amassed a substantial collection of over 500 rare books on art, architecture and Canadian history. After his death a portion of this collection was sold to the City of Montreal and remaining portion was donated to McMaster University (Spectator [Hamilton], 15 Oct. 1948, 7 & 12). Witton died in Hamilton on 9 June 1947 leaving an estate valued at $107,448 (obituary in The Spectator [Hamilton], 10 June 1947, 7; R.A.I.C. Journal, xxiv, July 1947, 258; Dictionary of Hamilton Biography, iii, 1992, 227-28; inf. Arthur Wallace and Robert D. Hamilton, Hamilton, Ont.)


ERSKINE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, Pearl Street at Morden Street, a Sunday School, 1896; interior alterations to the church, 1902 (C.R., vii, 4 June 1896, 3, t.c.; xiii, 12 Feb. 1902, 2, t.c.)
SPECTATOR BUILDING, James Street South, an office building for the Hamilton Spectator newspaper, 1897 (C.R., viii, 25 Feb. 1897, 4; C.A.B., xi, Feb. 1898, 27)
ROYAL HOTEL, James Street North, addition and major alterations, 1897-98 (C.R., viii, 30 Sept. 1897, 2; C.A.B., xii, Sept. 1899, 177, descrip. and plate illus.)
GEORGE E. TUCKETT & SON, Queen Street North, factory, 1898 (C.R., ix, 3 Aug. 1898, 2, t.c.)
HAMILTON GENERAL HOSPITAL, Barton Street East at Victoria Avenue North, building for outdoor patients, 1900 (C.R., xi, 3 Oct. 1900, 3, t.c.)
NURSES' HOME, Euclid Avenue at Barton Street, 1902 (C.R., xiii, 26 March 1902, 2)
WALKERTON, ONT., Bruce County General Hospital, 1902 (C.R., xiii, 4 June 1902, 1, t.c.)
CAROLINE STREET NORTH, residence for William Frank, 1902 (C.R., xiii, 12 Nov. 1902, 2)


HAMILTON TECHNICAL SCHOOL, Wentworth Street North near Cannon Street, major addition of offices, auditorium, gymnasium and art wing, 1920; Motor Mechanics Dept. addition, 1924 (C.R., xxxv, 29 June 1921, 42, t.c.; xxxvi, 20 Dec. 1922, 13, illus. in advert.)
LONG & BISBY BUILDING, Sanatorium Road, 1921, a Nurse's Residence on the Brow Site of Mountain Sanatorium (Ann Gillespie, "Hamilton's Health Care Haritage" in ACORN [Toronto], Vol. 46 No. 1, Spring 2021, 26-27, illus. & descrip.)
WEST AVENUE PUBLIC SCHOOL, major addition, 1921 (C.R., xxxv, 2 Feb. 1921, 56)
PORT NELSON, ONT., residence for Mr. Patterson, 1922 (C.R., xxxvi, 21 June 1922, 58)
McILWRAITH PUBLIC SCHOOL, Murray Street West, major addition, 1923-24 (Hamilton Public School Board Minutes, 4 Oct. 1923; Const., xvi, Oct. 1923, 378)
CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN CATHEDRAL, James Street North, chancel addition, 1924-25 (Christ Church Cathedral Hamilton 1835-1935, 54, illus.)
LLOYD GEORGE PUBLIC SCHOOL, Beach Road at Agincourt Avenue, major addition, 1924-25 (Hamilton Public School Board Minutes, 11 Dec. 1924)
ST. CLAIR AVENUE, residence for Robert Kerr, 1925 (C.R., xxxix, 29 April 1925, 52, t.c.)
DUNDAS, ONT., residence for Dr. D.M. Livingstone, King Street, 1925; demol. c. 1955 (C.R., xxxix, 29 April 1925, 52, t.c.)
GEORGE R. ALLAN PUBLIC SCHOOL, King Street West at Bond Street, major addition, 1926-27 (Hamilton Public School Board Minutes, 21 April 1926)


LLOYD GEORGE PUBLIC SCHOOL, Beach Road at Agincourt Avenue, major addition, 1928 (Hamilton Public School Board Minutes, 1 March 1928)
HAMILTON TECHNICAL SCHOOL, Wentworth Street North near Cannon Street, girls gymnasium and shop wing, 1929 (Hamilton Public School Board Minutes, 11 Feb. 1929)
(with Thomas H. Wiley) ST. CATHARINES, ONT., Lincoln & Welland Counties Sanatorium, Merrittville Road (now Glenridge Road), 1929 (C.R., xliii, 17 July 1929, 59; E. Julian et al, St. Catharines: Our Built Heritage, 2005, 151, illus.)
GEORGE R. ALLAN PUBLIC SCHOOL, King Street West at Bond Street, major additions, 1929-30; 1939 (Hamilton Public School Board Minutes, 1929; 1939)
MOUNT HAMILTON HOSPITAL (also called Mountain View Hospital), Mountain Park Avenue, maternity ward, 1932; power house, 1933 (C.R., xlvi, 7 Sept. 1932, 998, 1017, illus. in advert.; xlvii, 4 Jan. 1933, 32; Mark Osbaldeston, Unbuilt Hamilton, 2016, 86-87, illus. & descrip.; dwgs. at OA, Souter & Lenz Coll., roll 496)
MOUNTAIN SANATORIUM, Ancaster Road, nurses' home, 1932 (C.R., xlvi, 6 Jan. 1932, 45)
ST. CLAIR AVENUE, residence for Ralph Cooper, 1932 (C.R., xlvi, 6 April 1932, 58)