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Architect Personal DetailsArchitectural works in South Australia
Firms or Professional PartnershipsBibliographic Sources

Architect Personal Details

Surname

Milne

First name

Frank Kenneth

Gender

Male

Born

18/07/1885

Died

03/10/1980

Biography

F. Kenneth Milne is one of South Australia’s most well-known and prolific early to mid twentieth century architects.

Frank Kenneth Milne was born on 18 July 1885 at Tusmore House, Tusmore. He was one of eight children born to John Milne and Lucy Edith Macgeorge. His grandfather was the wine and spirit merchant Sir William Milne who was a pioneer South Australian. Milne married Hazel Muir Fotheringham on the 12 March 1913 at Chalmers Church, Adelaide. Their only son, Kenneth Lancelot (Lance) Milne, was born on the 14 August 1915 (SLSA Family History Database). He later became an accountant. Milne was a forthright character and when he died on 3 October 1980, ‘at the age of 96, he was a popular doyen of South Australian architects and still a devotee of the Georgian style’ (Page 1986: 129).

Milne lived a life of privilege, thanks to the generosity of his relatives who not only cared for him at various times throughout his life but also paid for his early education and his articles of apprenticeship as an architect. Milne attended Glenelg Public School for his primary education and North Adelaide Public School for his secondary schooling. He also received private finishing tuition. Milne remembered that as a primary school student, ‘I always was drawing houses on my school books, even at that age, so it seemed to me that there was nothing I could possibly do in the world but architecture’ (Interview with Milne 12 May 1979: 3).

Milne began his architectural career when he was articled to the well-known Adelaide architect Alfred Wells from around 1900. One of Milne’s uncles paid Wells £350 for a three year apprenticeship and after 18 months Milne began to receive a wage of £1 per week (Interview with Milne undated: 11-12). Milne went on to work as a draftsman for Wells until 1906. Against the advice of Wells, Milne left Adelaide and sought architectural experience in Sydney. He worked as a draftsman for the leading firm Robertson & Marks.

In April 1909 Milne returned to Adelaide and established his own practice in Grenfell Street. It took time for him to build his practice though and he reminisced that he ‘often stood at the window and ‘saw friends passing and knew they were going to build, but they wouldn’t come to me so that was most disappointing’’ (Page 1986: 130). One of Milne’s earliest commissions was the Hampstead Hotel in Grote Street (1910), followed by his much revered Adelaide Oval Scoreboard (1911). In fact the South Australian Cricket Association became one of his longstanding clients. Another client was the South Australian Brewing Co. Ltd. Much of Milne’s early work comprised hotels in both metropolitan and rural areas. Over time, he established a reputation for his domestic work and designed many large residences for wealthy members of Adelaide’s establishment; his family’s connections proving invaluable. However Milne also undertook charitable work. At the outbreak of World War One he worked as an honorary architect for the Red Cross (S.A. Division) and this role continued into the post-war years.

Earlier in 1912 Milne took on his first articled pupil, John Richard Schomburgk Evans. Evans completed his articles in 1915 but soon after enlisted in World War One. After the war he returned to Adelaide and became Milne’s first partner in 1920 and the practice became known as F. Kenneth Milne and Evans. Charles Alexander Russell was Milne’s second articled pupil and like Evans he went on to become a partner in 1925. However the partnership was terminated and from 1931 Milne operated as a sole practitioner until 1946 (Johnson, Beck and Woodburn 1984: 3). Over the following decades, other partners joined Milne including Rolfe V. Boehm (1946), Lindsay C. Dawkins (1946), briefly Russell S. Ellis (c.1947), F.P. Bulbeck (c.mid 1950s) and John Twopeny (1960). Milne’s ‘volatile’ disposition resulted in ‘[j]ust about every architect in Adelaide ... [being] in partnership with old Ken at one time or another’ (Page 1986: 202).

Throughout his career, Milne played an active role in the profession. He was the President of the South Australian Institute of Architects (SAIA) from August 1937 to August 1939. In 1940 he was a founding member of the Architects’ Board of South Australia which administered the Architects Act - an act which governed the registration of architects (Page 1986: 191). He helped establish the Chair of Architecture at the University of Adelaide and was a member of the Faculty of Town Planning and Architecture. His association with the University of Adelaide was reinforced when he established the ‘Kenneth and Hazel Milne Travelling Scholarship in Architecture’ for architecture students.

Milne designed many significant Adelaide buildings including Lister House on North Terrace (1927), and the Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society building on Waymouth Street (1928). In 1933 he travelled to Britain and Europe for several months where he took a keen interest in Georgian architecture particularly the work of Robert and James Adams. This influence can be seen in his designs for Sir Alexander Downer’s residence at Aldgate, known as Arbury Park (c.1930s), and his own house, Sunnyside on Stanley Street in North Adelaide (c.1936). Milne is well-known for his exceptional detailing. He laboured over the design of elements such as skirtings, architraves and windows (Interview with Milne 29 April 1979: 2).

Other important buildings include Goldsbrough House on North Terrace (1935) and the H.C. Sleigh building on Pirie Street (1950s). The Sleigh building was criticised at the time because it was designed in the Georgian style. However it illustrates a significant transition point in the state’s architectural history when traditional Classical designs were still considered relevant by some architects such as Milne even in the face of modernism. Milne was reluctant to embrace modernism and gradually retired from practice during the period from 1956 to 1962.

Milne’s contribution to architecture was recognised during his lifetime. In 1944 he was awarded the first SAIA Award of Merit for Domestic Architecture for his own residence Sunnyside. In 1953 he was honoured with her Majesty’s Coronation Medal. In 1970 he was awarded Life Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. Milne’s passion for architecture was matched by his enthusiasm for sport. He was an avid sportsman and a life member of both the S.A. Rugby Union and the Adelaide Rowing Club.

Susan Collins

Citation details
Collins, Susan, ‘Milne, Frank Kenneth’, Architecture Museum, University of South Australia, 2008, Architects of South Australia: [http://www.architectsdatabase.unisa.edu.au/arch_full.asp?Arch_ID=57]

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Architectural works in South Australia

Name Suburb Year Designed
Sunnyside North Adelaide 1936
Hampshire Hotel Adelaide 1910
Adelaide Oval Scoreboard North Adelaide 1911
Lister House Adelaide 1927
Norwich Union Fire Insurance Society Adelaide 1928
Arbury Park Aldgate
Goldsbrough House Adelaide 1929
H.C. Sleigh Adelaide
Turner House North Adelaide 1913
House for Clive Milne Thorngate 1913
Toms Residence Toorak Gardens 1912
S.A. Brewing Co Adelaide
Marryatville Ozone Theatre remodelling Kensington Park 1941
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Firms or Professional Partnerships

Name Dates Worked
F. Kenneth Milne 1909-1920 
F. Kenneth Milne & Evans 1920-1925 
F. Kenneth Milne, Evans & Russell 1925-1930 
F. Kenneth Milne 1931-1946 
F. Kenneth Milne, Dawkins & Boehm 1946-1947 
F. Kenneth Milne, Dawkins, Boehm & Ellis 1947-1955 
F. Kenneth Milne, Boehm, Ellis & Bulbeck 1956-1959 
F. Kenneth Milne, Boehm, Bulbeck & Partners 1960-1961 
F. Kenneth Milne, Boehm, Twopeny & Moss 1961-1963 
Milne Boehm Twopeny & Hodge 1963-1973 
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Bibliographic Sources

Name

PUBLISHED
Books
(1936) ‘Who’s Who’ South Australian Centenary 1936, Amalgamated Publishing Co., Adelaide, p. 283.
Goad, P. (2012) 'Milne, Kenneth' in Goad, P. and Willis, J. (eds) The encyclopaedia of Australian architecture, Cambridge University Press: 457.
Page, M. (1986) Sculptors in Space: South Australian Architects 1836-1986, RAIA (SA), Adelaide.
Johnson, D.L. (1980) Australian Architecture 1901-51: Sources of Modernism, Sydney University Press, Sydney.

Journals
'Past Presidents, SA Chapter: Frank Kenneth Milne', PLACE, November 2011: 11.

Newspapers
The Critic, 19 July 1922, p. 5.

UNPUBLISHED
Theses
Collins, S.L. (2007) Traces that Remain: Architectural Drawings as Contextual Records, unpublished PhD thesis, University of South Australia.

Interviews
Milne, F.K. (29 April 1979) Milne Collection S75, LLSAM.
Milne, F.K. (4 May 1979) Milne Collection S75, LLSAM.
Milne, F.K. (12 May 1979) ‘Glenelg Days, Relations Etc’, Milne Collection S75, LLSAM.
Milne, F.K. (undated) ‘Growing Up – North Adelaide and Blackwood’, Milne Collection S76, LLSAM.

Archival
Notes on F. Kenneth Milne, 29 March 1940, Milne Collection S18, LLSAM.
Dictionary of International Biography Form, 1978, Milne Collection S18, LLSAM.
Research notes and various articles relating to F.K. Milne, F. Kenneth Milne’s Resume, Milne Collection S76, LLSAM.
‘Oval Scoreboard Designer Dies’, Advertiser, 4 October 1980, Milne Collection S76, LLSAM.
Extracts from The Register detailing the Architectural Practice of F. Kenneth Milne from 1909-1921, Milne Collection S76, LLSAM.
Extracts from The Builders’ and Contractors’ Weekly Gazette from June 1921 to December 1928 detailing the Architectural Practice of F. Kenneth Milne & Evans, Milne Collection S76, LLSAM.
Extracts from Building and Construction detailing the Architectural Practice of F. Kenneth Milne & Evans, Milne Collection S76, LLSAM.
List of buildings designed by Milne, notes relating to the National Estate Project, Milne Collection S76, LLSAM.
Johnson, D.L., Beck, E.T. and Woodburn, S. (1984) F. Kenneth Milne: A Portrait of an Architect, Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide, Milne Collection S124, LLSAM.

ELECTRONIC
Websites
Australian Heritage Places Inventory, accessed online 10 September 2007 at http://www.heritage.gov.au/ahpi/index.html
Milne, Frank Kenneth (1885-1980) Australian Dictionary of Biography accessed online 29 July 2008 at http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A150439.htm

Other
State Library of South Australia (SLSA) Family History Database, 'SA Births 1842-1906', 'SA Births 1907-1928', and 'SA Marriages 1842-1916', accessed online 8 July 2008 at SLSA.

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