John M. Donaldson (1854 - 1941) was an American architect and artist born on January 17, 1854, in Stirling, Scotland. Donaldson was principle designer of the successful Detroit-based architectural firm Donaldson and Meier from 1880 onwards.
In 1856 John and Isabella (McNaughten) Donaldson immigrated to Detroit, Michigan with their two year old son John. He graduated from the Detroit Public Schools and later from the Polytechnic Collage. Following that he returned to Europe where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany,at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France , finishing his European art studies in Venice.
He returned to Detroit and in 1874 was invited to produce architectural sculpture for the Detroit City Hall then being built. For this building Donaldson made a model of a statue of Pere Marquette that was carved in stone by Julius Melchers. When the building was demolished in the 1950s the statue was salvaged and now stands on the campus of Wayne State University.
In 1878 Donaldson joined in partnership with architect Henry T. Brush, but Brush's death a year later in 1879 ended it. In 1882 Donaldson married Charlotte Grosvenor Brush, his former partner's widow. In 1880 he formed a partnership with Henry J. Meier, Donaldson and Meier. Though Meier died in 1917, the firm continued as Donaldson and Meier until the 1970s.
Donaldson was a member of the American Institute of Architects and the National Sculpture Society.
Created by: Elizabeth & Ron Record added: Feb 24, 2010
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