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Powell, Lange Leopold (1886–1938)

by Janet Hogan

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Lange Leopold Powell (1886-1938), architect, was born on 2 July 1886 at Rockhampton, Queensland, seventh surviving child of William Powell, Methodist minister, and second child of his second wife Mary Ellen, née Zillman. He was named after his maternal grandparents Clare Lange and Leopold Zillman, German missionaries, who in 1838 were among the first free settlers in the Moreton Bay District.

Privately educated, and briefly at Central Boy's School, Brisbane, Powell was articled to Addison & Corrie, architects, (1900-05) and attended Brisbane Technical College. He worked as a draughtsman for C. W. Chambers (1905-06), then briefly with the Public Works Department in 1907. A council-member of the Queensland Art Society, and highly recommended by Addison, Powell left for London in 1908 and worked for Belcher & Co. He was an accomplished pen-and-ink sketcher and water-colourist. In 1909 he became an architectural member of the Union des Beaux Arts et des Lettres of France. That year he exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, the Louvre, Paris, and at the Queensland Art Society (also in 1911). Powell married Maud Gertrude Moore at Murtoa, Victoria, on 19 April 1911.

His Brisbane partnerships included Chambers & Powell (1911-21), Powell & Hutton (1922-25) and Atkinson, Powell & Conrad (1927-31); with Atkinson and Conrad he had been appointed architect to the Brisbane and South Coast Hospital Board in 1926. St Martin's War Memorial Hospital (opened 1922) is Powell's best-known extant work; he considered it one of his best designs. He was grand architect for the Masonic Temple, Brisbane (1928), its grand hall being one of the finest in Australia. Many of his buildings have been demolished, including Eton House, which complemented St Martin's Hospital.

Powell was interested in interior decoration and designed a Gothic carved-stone reredos in Holy Trinity Church, Fortitude Valley, dedicated on 10 November 1929. He designed the altar and triptych (painted by W. Bustard) for the Lady Chapel of St John's Cathedral, eventually erected in his memory by his friend Dr Robert Graham Brown and dedicated on 4 August 1940, and other interior decorations of the cathedral.

Powell was honorary secretary (1910-15), councillor, vice-president (1923-27) and president (1927-31) of the Queensland Institute of Architects. The Architects Registration Act was passed in 1928 during his presidency; he became a member of the first board. For many years he was Queensland representative on the federal council of the Australian Institute of Architects (president 1928-29). With Sir Charles Rosenthal he drafted the constitution of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (1930) of which he was second president in 1932-33. Powell represented the board of architects of Queensland on the R.A.I.A.'s board of architectural education. He was a fellow of the Queensland Institute of Architects (1918), the Royal Institute of British Architects (1929) and the R.A.I.A. (1930).

A popular mixer who loved club life and who golfed for recreation, Powell was president of the Brisbane Club (1933-34) and assistant grand master of Freemasons. He died on 29 October 1938 in St Martin's Hospital, Brisbane, survived by his wife, son and two daughters, and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • The Making of St. Martin's Hospital (Brisb, 1919)
  • Who's Who in Australia (IPS), 1935 (for list of many buildings he designed)
  • Royal Academy Exhibitions 1905-1970, vol 5 (Wakefield, Eng, 1981)
  • D. Watson and J. McKay, A Directory of Queensland Architects to 1940 (Brisb, 1984)
  • Architecture and Building (London), 83, May 1929, p 21
  • Church of England, Diocese of Brisbane, Church Chronicle, 2 Dec 1929, p 300
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 30 Oct 1938, 5 Aug 1940
  • M. F. Kerr, Lange L. Powell: Architect (B.Arch. thesis, University of Queensland, 1957)
  • J. V. D. Coutts, Early Queensland Architects (typescript, 1952, State Library of Queensland)
  • Queensland Institute of Architects, minute book, 1916-34, and Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Queensland chapter, minute book, 1935, and Year Book, 1934-42.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Janet Hogan, 'Powell, Lange Leopold (1886–1938)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/powell-lange-leopold-8088/text14115, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 21 July 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

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