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Everett, Percy Edgar (1888–1967)

by Frances O'Neill

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Percy Edgar Everett (1888-1967), architect and headmaster, was born on 26 June 1888 at Geelong, Victoria, seventh child of Joseph Everett, a blacksmith from England, and his native-born wife Emma Mary, née Elliott. Educated locally at Ashby Public School, Percy was articled to W. H. Cleverdon, a Geelong architect, and studied at the Gordon Technical College. He was employed as architectural draftsman (1907-10) to the Geelong Harbour Trust before he joined the firm of Seeley & King and later became a partner; during this time he designed the Sailors' Rest building. In 1913 he visited Britain and Europe. When he returned to Geelong his firm was taken over by Laird & Buchan.

While retaining ties with Laird & Buchan, in 1914 Everett moved to Melbourne where the wartime shortage of architectural work led him in 1916 to take up the headmastership of Brunswick Technical School. On 11 June 1924 at Mentone he married with Presbyterian forms a widow Georgina Buchanan Arthur, née Boyd (d.1956). In 1932 he was transferred to Brighton Technical School as headmaster. Although he maintained a private practice in these years and was responsible for the development of the Victorian Education Department's architectural curriculum, his practical work was sparse.

In 1934 Everett was appointed chief architect in the Victorian Public Works Department. There he formed a strong design division—divorced from the documentation and contract administration sections—and recruited his architects from private practice. Insisting on approving every architectural drawing, he retained absolute control over the designs produced in the department. As chief architect, he was responsible for the construction and maintenance of the State's public buildings, including courthouses, police stations, prisons, mental hospitals, sanatoriums, schools and tertiary institutions, as well as residences for government employees.

Autocratic in temperament and energetic in application, Everett made his distinctive imprint on public buildings throughout Victoria. He had completed a world tour in 1930, and, in 1945, travelled to North America to study recent trends in public architecture. Although his eclecticism embraced Art Deco, American Beaux-Arts and Modernism, his additions to existing buildings were unsympathetic to the work of earlier architects. In their siting and insistently three-dimensional character, his buildings were statements of civic importance. Among his more notable achievements in design were the Ballarat Public Offices (1941) and the Russell Street Police Headquarters (1942-43) which exemplified the stepped skyscraper form. He retired from the department in 1953. On 26 June 1956 at Brighton he married a widow Mavis Delgany Stewart, née Richards.

Everett had been chairman of the State Building Regulations Committee, vice-president of the Town Planning Association, a fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects, and a member of the Architects' Registration Board. Survived by his wife and two stepchildren, he died on 6 May 1967 at Brighton Beach and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Builder, Apr 1952, p 225
  • Argus (Melbourne), 3 July 1934, 26 June 1953
  • Herald (Melbourne), 27 Nov 1944, 7 May 1967
  • Age (Melbourne), 8 May 1967
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 8 May 1967
  • R. Swansson, Percy Edgar Everett: Essays and Appendices (investigation project, Faculty of Architecture, University of Melbourne, 1988)
  • Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Victorian Chapter, papers MS9454, box 104/2 (State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

Frances O'Neill, 'Everett, Percy Edgar (1888–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/everett-percy-edgar-10136/text17897, published in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 3 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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