Born on 28 January 1910 in the western Victorian town of Ararat, Gregory Simpson was the youngest of five children of draper Robert Simpson (1876-1940) and his wife, the former Susan Agnes Shannon (1870-1928). Little is known of Gregory’s early life, although he had commenced architectural studies at the University of Melbourne by August 1933, when he was nominated a student member of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects (RVIA). Subsequently completing the course, Simpson's Bachelor of Architecture degree was conferred on 10 April 1937. Later the following year, he was admitted as an associate member of the RVIA.
In March 1940, Simpson married New Zealand-born Evelyn Joyce Rountree (1911-1988), and the couple subsequently resided in Belgrave Road, East Malvern. By then, Simpson was employed as a draftsman in the Collins Street office of R M & M H King, architects. He was still working there in February 1941, when he became registered as an architect in Victoria. Little else is currently known of Simpson’s professional activity during these years. By 1946, he held the position of honorary architect to the Young Christian Workers’ Movement, in which capacity he designed some low-cost dwellings that were intended to take advantage of recently-enacted co-operative housing legislation.
By December 1946, Simpson and his wife Evelyn had moved to New Zealand, where they occupied a house in the Auckland suburb of Morningside. In a letter to the ARBV written nine month later, Simpson stated that "as the length of my stay in New Zealand is quite indefinite, I can see no value in holding registration to practice in Victoria". Virtually nothing is known of Simpson's work in New Zealand; as was the case in Australia at the time, there was very little opportunity for private construction in the early post-war years. In a 1947 letter, Simpson related his views of the local construction industry, observing that "a state monopoly of building supplies for houses and flats erected by the state has prevented private enterprise from playing a major role in meeting the housing position in New Zealand".
It was not until 1950 that he and his wife returned to Australia, whereupon he re-instated his status as a registered architect in Victoria and obtained a position in the Collins Street architectural office of Marsh & Michaelson. The Simpson family (eventually to include four daughters) lived for a time in Fitzroy before moving further out to Canterbury, taking up residence in a large bungalow on Whitehorse Road from where Simpson ran his own architectural practice. In the later 1960s, the family moved to Balwyn North, occupying a modern house in Hosken Street that Simpson may have designed himself, while he continued to practice from a small office in Whitehorse Road, Deepdene. In the mid-1970s, Simpson's firm was re-badged as Simpson, Gillies & Hartland, following the admission to partnership of employees Robert Edwin (Ted) Gillies and Dutch-born Gerritt Nicolaas (Gerry) Hartland.
Gregory Simpson died on 18 July 1987, aged 77 years. He was survived by his wife Evelyn and their four daughters including the eldest, Susan, who had married a civil engineer and was living in New South Wales.
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Simpson, Gillies & Hartland