Dr. Alexander Ross

1834 - 1925

A prolific architect, known as the Christopher Wren of the Highlands. Born at Huntlyhill (Angus), the son of an architect who moved his family to Inverness in 1842. Ross was educated at Inverness Royal Academy and Bell's Institution. He worked for his father and then formed a partnership with a school-friend. In 1865, Ross set up his own architectural practise in Dingwall and it is estimated he designed 650 buildings during his career, including churches, manses, schools, distilleries, country houses, shooting lodges and private villas.

Ross was responsible for many of the Victorian houses in Inverness but, in particular, he transformed the west bank of the River Ness with the building of Inverness Cathedral (1866) and its associated Bishop's Palace (1878), together with laying out Ardross Street, Ardross Terrace and Ness Walk (1873), and designing the Palace Hotel (1890) and Columba Hotel (1881). Elsewhere in the town, Ross laid out much of Academy Street, Queensgate and Union Street.

Ross was somewhat of a social climber, making use of connections as a volunteer army officer and as a mason to further his career. He married Mary Finlayson, daughter of Sir Alexander Matheson's factor on the island of Harris, and this brought Ross the role of factor of Matheson's Inverness estate in 1868. He went on to build both Ardross Castle (1880) and Duncraig Castle (1899) for Matheson and remodelled Skibo Castle (1899) for the steel-maker and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1919).

Beyond architecture, he had extensive business interests; he was a Director of the Northern Infirmary, Inverness College, the Caledonian Bank and Inverness Tweed Mill. He was also a major shareholder of the Rose Street Foundry. He served as Provost of Inverness (1889-95) and was one of the founders of the Inverness Scientific Society and Field Club, and the Gaelic Society of Inverness

He retired only two years before his death at the age of ninety. His funeral was held at Inverness Cathedral and he lies buried in Tomnahurich Cemetery. A plaque in his memory was unveiled within Inverness Cathedral in 1990.

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