J Steel Maitland, architect. Archibald Dawson, sculptor 1926-7.
3-storey monumental public building block with 7 bays, to
Causeyside Street, 6 to New Street, 1 corner bay. Polished
granite plinth with Blaxter sandstone ashlar cladding to reinforced concrete
frame. Bronze window panels. Angle bay, approached by steps
with 2 octagonal columns inset in architrave. 2 enamelled
coats of arms. Over columns Bronze nameplate between bronze
group of Mother and children above.
Windows to two upper floors and attic lunette linked
vertically by bronze panels and flanked by corniced pilasters
supporting architraved, arch with keystone supporting gilded
bronze angel carrying 2 babies. Carved to left and right is
"A DEO SALUS". Cornice with 2 bronze finials. Long
elevations: "pylons" to outer bays,: 3 with slit windows each
floor: 4th to right of Causeyside Street elevation has door
at ground and oriel over rising to attic, supported by stone
angel. Ashlar piers between inner bays at ground each support
bronze figure of infant. Above piers rise through 2 upper
floors, to carved brackets supporting cornices, and parapet.
Ground floor cross windows, 1st and 2nd floors linked
vertically with bronze bands.
Slate roof with later dormers to Causeyside Street.
Return elevation to west has 2 pylons with 5 narrow windows
each floor between. Rear elevations show exposed concrete.
INTERIOR: 2-leaf glazed lobby doors to double-height,
marble-clad entrance hall with compartmented ceiling.
Gallery corridor at 1st floor with star-cut marble balustrade
between columns that rise from ground-floor
pilasters. White marble staircase rising
through segmental arch opposite entrance; marble-architraved
entrances to ground floor corridors flanking stair to each side;
semicircular cantilevered balcony projecting above staircase
supported on large scrolled brown marble bracket that springs
from keystone of staircase arch; cast-bronze plaque to centre
of balcony inscribed 'THIS BUILDING IS GIFTED TO THE
CITIZENS OF PAISLEY BY MISS AGNES RUSSELL IN
MEMORY OF HER TWO BROTHERS ROBERT & THOMAS
RUSSELL. Staircase divides into 2 from second flight with
elaborate Art-Deco, gold-painted metal balustrade with polished
timber handrail; polished timber benches (many curved to
fit against curved walls) with scrolled legs to stair landings
and other circulation areas. Many other original fixtures remain.
Statement of Special Interest
A monumental public building situated prominently in Paisley town centre on the corner of Causeyside Street and New Street. The Russell Institute was designed by one of Paisley's leading architects and is one of the best examples of his work. No expense was spared in the construction of the building and this is evident from the use of bronze of and stone sculpture on the exterior of the building and the high quality of the interior fixtures.
The Russell Institute was opened by HRH Princess Mary on 19th March 1927. It was donated to Paisley Burgh by Miss Russell (who died before it was completed) as a memorial to her two brothers, Robert and Thomas Russell. It was built as a child welfare clinic and is still used for roughly that purpose. Miss Russell placed no financial restriction on the construction expenses, and the final cost of the building was not revealed.
The architectural practice Abercrombie and Maitland was chosen to design the building. This practice had been established by T G Abercrombie in 1886 and by the early 20th century was the leading architectural practice in Paisley. In about 1920 Abercrombie employed J S Maitland as his assistant, and took him into partnership 3 years later. Maitland was given responsibility for designing the Russell Institute from the start, and continued the practice on his own following Abercrombie's death in 1926.
The building originally had bronze or wrought-iron balconies to the 1st floor windows; these were removed in about 1960.
Upgraded from category B to A 3 October 2005.
We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/shep-dec2011.pdf, Annex 2, pp74-76.
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