Building Architect

The Church which is today the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Luke, was built in 1877 as the Belhaven Church for a United Presbyterian congregation which met there until 1960. One of the first members of the congregation was the building’s architect, James Sellars.

Born in Glasgow in 1843, the son of a house factor, Sellars was apprenticed to Hugh Barclay in 1857 then later partnered Campbell Douglas after winning the Stewart Memorial Fountain competition (Kelvingrove Park, 1872). This success led to a constant flow of commissions for buildings of every type in a variety of styles throughout the city and Scotland. Chief amongst these was his masterpiece, the spectacular St. Andrew’s Halls (Cranville St, 1873) and Kelvinside Academy (Bellhaugh Rd, 1877).

The great building boom of the 1870s that ended abruptly with the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878, for which Sellars had designed one of his finest buildings (Glassford St, demolished 1959), revived with the building of the City Chambers for which Sellars twice unsuccessfully submitted designs in the controversial competitions of 1881 and 1882.
Another competition, however, provided Sellars with his final success, the International Exhibition buildings, Kelvingrove, 1888. It is said that Sellars stood on a nail whilst visiting the construction site and that the resulting infection led to his death, at the age of 45, from gangrene. He was buried in Lambhill Cemetery, for which he had earlier designed a triumphal entrance arch (1880), his grave being marked with an Egyptian style monument designed in 1890 by his assistant John Keppie and ornamented by sculptor James Pittendrigh MacGillivray.

Other buildings in Glasgow by Sellars, include:

  • 1875 Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church, Saltoun St

  • 1878 Finnieston Parish Church, 41 Derby St

  • 1879 James Sellars House, 144 West Regent St and Glasgow Herald Building, 63 Buchanan St

  • 1882 Victoria Infirmary, Grange Rd, Langside

  • 1883 Fraser’s Department Store, Buchanan St

  • 1887 Couper Institute, 84-86 Clarkston Rd

  • 1888 Anderson College of Medicine, 56 Dumbarton Rd