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Last updated: 17 June 2011

Lawson, Robert Arthur

Collection | Ref # ARC-0412 | Held by Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hakena

What is it?


Lawson, Robert Arthur


Lawson, Robert Arthur, 1833-1902

Level of description:



0.05 linear metres (2 folders, 1 volume and 1 plan)

Reference number:



Robert Arthur Lawson was born in Scotland in 1833. He commenced his architectural training in Perth around 1848, completing in Edinburgh in the early 1850s. Lawson emigrated to Victoria on the 'Tongataboo' in 1854 and spent the next seven years in various occupations including gold mining. By 1861 he was practising architecture in Melbourne and by the following year, under the pseudonym 'Presbyter', he won a competition for the design of First Church of Otago, in Dunedin. He set up in practice in Dunedin in June 1862 and received a steady flow of commissions. He was pre-eminently a church architect and most of his churches are Gothic in style, however he also designed Larnach Castle, Dunedin Municipal Chambers and Otago Boys' High School. Lawson was also a prominent Presbyterian (an elder and session clerk at First Church and superintendent of the Sunday school). During a bleak spell, Lawson returned to Melbourne for a period of time, before returning again to Dunedin in 1900 and working with his former pupil, James Louis Salmond, in building a residence for Watson Shennan.

Scope and contents:

This collection includes a diary, a letter from Reverend Thomas Burns and building specification plans.

Dates covered:

1854 - 1933

Access conditions:

Not restricted

Finding aids:

Listed on Hakena, the Hocken Collections online archives and manuscripts catalogue.

Related links:

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Associated with:


Dunedin · Southland (Region) · Otago Region · Australia · England

People & organisations:



Architects · Presbyterian Church

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