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KEITH REID (1906-1999)

Biographical Overview

Born in Richmond on 20 October 1906, Keith Reid completed his education at Swinburne Technical College and the University of Melbourne Architectural Atelier.  Concurrent with his studies, in the late 1920s, he was employed in the office of Cedric Ballantyne (1876-1954), where he worked on the Regent Theatre in Collins Street.  During the lean depression years, Reid and his friend Rae Featherstone worked together, making models for the SEC to illustrate how electricity could be used in buildings.  During this period, Reid also distinguished himself in several architectural competitions.  In 1930, his scheme for a new St Kilda Town Hall won second prize in the RVIA Silver Medal competition.  Later that year, he entered the RVIA Ideal Homes Competition and was awarded first first prize in two different categories: Type A (Single Storey) and Type B (Double Storey).  One of his winning entries, designed in an English cottage style, was described in the press as "a very happy and refreshing contribution to domestic architecture".  

Around 1931, Reid entered into partnership with John Andrew "Jock" Pearson.  Their most celebrated project (designed in association with Stuart Calder) was the stylish Streamlined Moderne showroom for MacPhersons Ltd in Collins Street.  The building was much lauded locally, and was even published overseas in an American journal, the Architect & Engineer.  While the firm of Reid & Pearson undertook some residential and commercial commissions, the bulk of their output was ecclesiastical projects - mostly for the Presbyterian church - which would form the mainstay of Reid's career for several decades.  Architecturally, their work displayed an interesting hybrid character, combining fashionable historicist styles with cutting-edge planning and detailing.  A block of flats in Toorak, for example, was lauded by the Argus as a "very modern adaptation of the English cottage style", whilst incorporating up-to-date facilities such as compact kitchens with ventilated cupboards, dedicated storage areas and other modern labour-saving devices.  It was also during this period of flourishing professional activity that Reid married Ailsa Graham Bow; the couple had three sons.

The partnership of Reid & Pearson ceased with the onset of the Second World War.  In the early years of the War, Reid was employed by the Commonwealth Department of Munitions. Then, in June 1943, he enlisted with the Australian Army and, like many other architects, served with the Royal Engineers.  Discharged in October 1946 with the rank of Lieutenant, Reid returned to civilian life in Melbourne and resumed private practice under his own name.  As had been the case during the 1930s, Reid concentrated on ecclesiastical projects.  Around 1950, he formed a partnership with K Murray Forster (1907-1967), an architect who also undertook much work for the Presbyterian church.  The two men rented office space in the upstairs front room of a two-storey terrace house on Latrobe Street (the rear room being occupied by another architect, Horace Tribe, with whom Reid had studied at the atelier).  Despite the mutual Presbyterian connection, the partnership  of Reid & Forster did not prove successful.  It ended amicably in 1951, with the two former partners continuing to share the same office space for some years thence.  Reid took on several staff, including English-born draftsman Ray Godfrey and, later, Austrian emigre Hugh Schroeder, later to become a noted architect in his own right.  

In his post-war practice, Reid continued to specialised in church projects.  As was the case in the pre-war years, Reid's churches were often characterised by traditional exteriors with modern interiors.  A church at Glen Iris (1954) was designed in a "refined conventional style" reminiscent of Perpendicular Gothic, yet included such internal innovations as a separate children's chapel, and a projection room contained in the tower.  Later, Reid developed a style that expressed traditional ecclesiastical forms in a modernist vocabulary.  This is typified by his Baptist Church in Canterbury (1962), which had a transept with fashionable zigzagging roof, a stylized tower with vertical fins and narrow spire, and a stained glass window-wall articulated with fin-like piers.  In a particularly striking example at Horsham (also 1962), Reid used a jagged plan form that was echoed in an eye-catching roofline, with a projecting diamond-shaped belvedere.

In the mid-1960s, Reid admitted his eldest son, John, into partnership.  Completing his university studies on a Commonwealth Scholarship, John won numerous prizes including the Stephenson & Turner Award, for top student.  He travelled and worked in Europe and the USA, including a stint in the New York office of I M Pei.  Like his father, he won early acclaim in design competitions, winning first prize in contests sponsored by the Australian Plywood Board and the Tasmanian Timber Merchants' Association.  Fittingly, the re-badged firm of Keith & John R Reid went on to win several other competitions, including housing contests sponsored by the RAIA Small Homes Service, and won second place for a scheme for Melbourne's new Civic Square (1969).  The house that John Reid designed for himself in 1964 was selected by Architecture & Arts journal as one of the "Ten Best Buildings of the Year".  

During the later '60s and '70s, the office of Keith & John R Reid was best known for private residential commissions across the metropolitan area and Bellarine Peninsula, and also maintained a long and fruitful association as architects to the State Savings Bank of Victoria.  Keith Reid's younger son, Graham, joined the firm in 1973 and was elevated to partner in 1978, whereupon the firm was renamed as the Reid Partnership.  

Keith Reid retired in 1990 at the age of 84 years, having designed over 50 churches and 100 church-related buildings for Presbyterian, Anglican and Baptist congregations across Victoria. One of the last surviving stalwarts of Melbourne's inter-war architectural scene, he died on 28 August 1999 at the age of 92 years.

Select List of Projects

Reid & Pearson (1931-1942)


Showroom for MacPhersons Ltd, 546-566 Collins Street [with Stuart Calder]
Block of flats, Toorak
Residence, Coolangatta Road, Camberwell
House, Bairnsdale
Sunday School, St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Oakleigh
Residence, Geelong Road, Footscray
Factory, Sunshine Road, Sunshine
[with Stuart Calder]
Sunday School, Presbyterian Ewing Memorial Church, Burke Road, East Malvern
Site layout and buildings, Presbyterian Fellowship Association Camp, Mornington
Church of St Michael of all the Angels, Mount Dandenong
Residence, Mount Martha

Keith Reid (1946-1949)

Presbyterian Church, Dundonnell
St John's 
Church of England, Croydon
Additions (including new kitchen), Kilmany Park Boys' Farm, Sale 

Keith Reid and K Murray Forster (1949-51)
Church, Red Bluff [near Wodonga]
Public Hall, Welshpool
Residence, Bolton Street, Beaumaris

Keith Reid (1951-1964) 






St Paul's Church of England, Gisborne
Kindergarten Hall, Presbyterian Church, Wattle Park
Hall, Presbyterian Church, Balwyn North
Presbyterian Church, Glen Iris
Presbyterian Manse, Ballarat
Additions to Doctor's Residence, Plenty Road, Preston
St Margaret's Presbyterian Church, Hull Road, Mooroolbark
Residence for J Haysom, Mount Eliza
Additions to St George's Church, Ryrie Street, Geelong
Kindergarten Hall, Presbyterian Church, Reservoir
Residence, Hampton
St Columba's Presbyterian Church, Sale
Presbyterian Church, The Avenue, Blackburn
Presbyterian Church, Louisa Street, Coburg
Presbyterian Church, Templestowe
Baptist Church, 1a Balwyn Road, Canterbury
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Horsham
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Fowler Street, Moe
Residence, 73 Oak Street, Beaumaris
Baptist Church, Price Street, Aberfeldie
Residence, Riverside Avenue, Ivanhoe

Keith & John R Reid (1965-1978)



Residence for John Reid, 72 Macedon Road, Templestowe Lower
Residence, Argyle Street, Macelod
Residence, Pine Avenue, Park Orchards
Residence, Citron Avenue, Balwyn North

Residence, Dellas Street, Templestowe
Residence (V434) for the Age/RAIA Small Homes Service
Civic Square for the City of Melbourne [competition entry]
Residence, Point Lonsdale
Tarago Valley Masonic Lodge, 215 Main Neerim Road, Neerim South
Residence (V3179) for the Age/RAIA Small Homes Service
Residence, Anglesea
Residence, Ranleigh Rise, Templestowe
Residence, Queenscliff

Keith Reid Architect
Keith Reid as he appeared near the time of his retirement
source: courtesy John Reid, architect)

Keith Reid Atelier Project 1928
Project for an almshouse, prepared by Keith Reid at the Melbourne University Architectural Atelier (1928)

Keith Reid 1930 competition entry
Keith Reid's prize-winning entry in 1930 RVIA Competition (source: courtesy John Reid, architect)

Reid & Pearson with Stuart Calder
MacPhersons' Showroom, Collins Street (1936)
(source: courtesy John Reid, architect)

Keith Reid Church Mount Dandenong
Church of St Michael of all the Angels, Kalorama (1940) (source: courtesy John Reid, architect)

Keith Reid Church Canterbury
St John's Anglican Church, Croydon (1947)

Keith Reid Church Canterbury
Baptist Church, Balwyn Road, Canterbury (1962)

Keith & John R Reid
St Andrew's Presbyterian Chuirch, Horsham (1962-63)
(source: photograph by Built Heritage Pty Ltd)

Keith & John R Reid
John Reid's own house in Templestowe (1964)
(source: photograph by Built Heritage Pty Ltd)

The author would like to acknowlede the input of Keith's son and former partner, architect John R Reid, for sharing recollections, documentation and historic images from his private collection.