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BOSSOM, ALFRED CHARLES

BOSSOM, ALFRED CHARLES (1881–1965). Alfred Charles Bossom, architect, author, and member of Parliament, son of Alfred Henry and Amelia Jane (Hammond) Bossom, was born in Islington, London, England, on October 16, 1881. He took his architectural training at Regent Street Polytechnic and at the Royal Academy schools. In 1903 he traveled to the United States to design a housing scheme at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, for the Carnegie Steel Mills, Pittsburgh. He undertook the restoration of Fort Ticonderoga in New York state in 1908. His marriage to Emily Bayne, daughter of Samuel Bayne, president of National Seaboard Bank, New York, and owner of the second oil well drilled in the United States, undoubtedly influenced Bossom's evolving specialty in bank design and buildings for the petroleum industry, usually in the form of the skyscraper.

America was booming, and skyscraper construction had reached maturity. Bossom's contribution was to implement existing technologies with maximum efficiency. His theories, philosophy and work methods are summarized in his book, Building to the Skies: The Romance of the Skyscraper (1934). By 1918 his burgeoning architectural practice, which occupied offices at 680 Fifth Avenue in New York, was handling a flood of commissions in various parts of the county, primarily along the eastern seaboard and in Texas. The firm's work in Dallas includes the American Exchange National Bank (1918, associate architects Lang and Witchell), and the Magnolia-Mobil Petroleum Building (1922). Maple Terrace Apartments (1924–25) and alterations and extensions to the Adolphus Hotel were both done in collaboration with architects Thomson and Swaine. Bossom's major work in Houston is the Petroleum Building (1925–26), done in association with architects Briscoe, Dixon, and Sullivan. Bossom designed the United States National Bank in Galveston (1924). While he was working in Texas, he and his wife, both inveterate travelers, roamed the Southwest and traveled into Mexico. Alfred's sketches and commentary and Emily's photographs were published by Charles Scribner's in 1924 as An Architectural Pilgrimage in Old Mexico, which included the eighteenth-century missions in San Antonio.

The family returned to England in 1926, at the height of Bossom's professional career, determined that their three sons should be educated there. Bossom began a new life in public service, entirely detached from architectural practice. He was elected to Parliament as Conservative member for Maidstone, Kent, in 1931 and served for twenty-eight years. He was made a baronet in 1953, was elected chairman of the Royal Society of Arts (1957–59), and in 1960 was made life peer, taking as his title Lord Bossom of Maidstone. His enthusiasm for Texas was manifested in his leadership of the Anglo-Texan Society, of which he served as president from the mid-fifties until his death in London in 1965 at age eighty-three.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dennis Sharp, ed., Alfred C. Bossom's American Architecture, 1903–1926 (London: Book Art, 1984).

Mary Carolyn Hollers George

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Mary Carolyn Hollers George, "BOSSOM, ALFRED CHARLES," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbozl), accessed September 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.