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Male, UK/US, born 1834-08-20, died 1898-03-05

Associated with the firms network

Laver and Curlett, Architects; Laver and Mullany, Architects; Laver, Augustus, Architect; Laver, Curlett and Lenzen, Architects; Laver, Mullany and Laver, Architects

Professional History


Apprentice, Thomas Hellyer, Architect, Ryde, Isle of Wight, UK, c. 1849-1853. According to architectural historian Stephen A. Otto, writing in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, "He then worked in various London architectural offices until he was qualified to practise, when he joined the Post Office Department as a staff architect for about two years. In 1856, a year before leaving for the United States, he became a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, forming a connection that he cherished throughout his life." (See Stephen A. Otto, Dictionary of Canadian, "Laver, Augustus," accessed 09/22/2016.)

Partner, [Thomas] Stent and Laver, Ottawa, Canada, c. 1859-01/1865; according to Otto, "Presumably both men were attracted to Ottawa because it had been selected as the permanent capital of the Canadas early that year and a building boom was anticipated. To promote the capital and their own practice, Stent and Laver published a bird’s-eye view of the city." Between 03/1859 and 08/1859, architects were invited to submit designs for two new national governmental buildings in Ottawa. Two competitions were set up for departmental office spaces--what came to be called the "East and West Blocks"--and for the legislative spaces of Parliament. Thomas Stent supervised most of the Stent and Laver designs submitted for the two competitions, as Laver returned to England that year to marry. The firm did very well in both competions, winning the East and West Block commission and placing second for the Parliamentary job behind the Toronto firm of [Thomas] Fuller and [Chilion] Jones. As was very common for capitol buildings erected during the late nineteenth century, costs ballooned for the Canadian governmental buildings, a combination of poor coordination between architects and the building trades and, more to the point, political graft on the part of bureaucrats and elected officials. Work began on the buildings in 1859 but was halted in 10/1861, due to cost over-runs and slow progress. A special Commission of Enquiry was formed in 08/1862 to look into the construction delays, that resulted in Stent and Laver being removed from their supervisory positions. (See "Ottawa Buildings," Sessional Papers Second Session of the Seventh Parliament, vol. 21, no. 3, 1863, n.p.)

Principal, Augustus Laver, Architect, Ottawa, Canada, 1865-1869. In 1866, Laver had an architectural office at 12 Elgin Street in Ottawa. (See Ottawa City and Counties of Carleton and Russell Directory, 1866-1867, p. 167.) It appears that Laver left his architectural practice gradually in Ottawa. He transplanted his family to Albany by 1868, but his name was still listed as a practicing architect in Ottawa as late as 1869. His primary work focus had shifted to Albany, NY, and the New York State Capitol, after 1868. (See Sutherland’s Ottawa City Directory, 1869-1870, p. 170.)

Architect, "Departmental Buildings," Ottawa, Canada, 1866-1867. This likely meant that Laver was working for the government on the Parliament Building's completion. (See Ottawa City and Counties of Carleton and Russell Directory, 1866-1867, p. 102.)

Partner, [Thomas] Fuller, [Charles C.] Nichols and Company, Architects, Albany, NY, 1868. In 1868, Laver worked with Thomas Fuller (1823-1898), Charles Nichols and Frederick W. Brown, in an architectural partnership, Fuller, Nichols and Company, that had its offices at 67 State Street in Albany. (See Albany, New York, City Directory, 1868, p. 67.) Fuller, Nichols and Company dissolved in either late 1868 or early 1869 and Fuller and Laver struck out on their own.

Partner, Fuller and Laver, Architects, Albany, NY, c. 1869-1875. Fuller and Laver had an office at 45 North Pearl Street in Albany in 1871 and at 53 North Pearl Street in 1875. (See Albany, New York, City Directory, 1875, p. 115 and Albany, New York, City Directory, 1875, p. 91.) In 1866, Laver, along with Thomas Fuller and Arthur Delavan Gilman prepared a competition entry for the New York State Capitol building, a commission that promised to be lucrative and prestigious. Living in Albany, NY, they won the contest, with the result that Fuller and Laver went into practice together to supervise the building.

Fuller and Laver, fresh from their victory in the Albany statehouse competition, entered an 1871 competition to design a similarly grand City Hall and Courthosue for the City and County of San Francisco. As will be discussed below, Laver came West to oversee the City Hall work for multiple reasons.

Principal, Augustus Laver, Architect, San Francisco, CA, 1872-1889. Laver settled in San Francisco, at least part-time, by 1872, and rented office space in a building at Leavenworth and McAllister Streets (1872) at 19 6th Street (1873). (See Langley's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1872, p. 390 and Langley's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1873, p. 367.) A year later, Laver had an office in the Cochituate Building, 213-215 Sansome Street, Rooms #8-9. (See Langley's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1874, p. 395.) By 1883, Laver worked in Room #19 of the San Francisco Stock and Exchange Building. (See Langley's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1883, p. 649.) Laver leased office space at 327 Pine Street, Room #19, in 1888 and 1889. (SeeLangley's San Francisco Directory,1888, p. 719 and Langley's San Francisco Directory,1889, p. 799.)

Partner, Laver, Mullany and Laver, Architects, San Francisco, CA, 1890-1893. Laver, Mullany and Laver had its office in Room #93 of the Flood Building and remained here in 1893. (See Langley's San Francisco City Directory, 1891, p, 1498 and Langley's San Francisco City Directory, 1893, p. 859.)

Partner, Laver and [Patrick] Mullany, Architects, San Francisco, CA, 1894-1897. Laver and Mullany, Architects, had their office in Room #93 of the Flood Building. (See Crocker-Langley Company's San Francisco City Directory, 1896, p. 1700 and Crocker-Langley Company's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1897, p. 1031.)

Professional Activities

President, Pacific Coast Association of Architects, 1881; he was instrumental in organizing the San Francisco Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1881;



The occasionally accurate book by Henry and Elsie Rathburn Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased), stated of Laver's education: "Received architectural training in London" (See Henry and Elsie Rathburn Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects [Deceased], [Los Angeles, New Age Publishing Company],p. 364.)



As noted by the English Census 1851, Augustus Laver was born in Folkestone, Kent, England, in 1834 to George Laver and Mary Ann Lewis. It is not clear whether he was actually born in Folkestone or Charlton, a village to the northwest of Dover (now part of the latter city), where he was baptized on 11/06/1834. (See, Source Information England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014, accessed 05/09/2024.) One of his sisters had also been born in Folkestone, according to the 1851 Census. In any event, the cities or villages of Folkestone, Lyminge, Charlton, and Dover, were all clustered relatively close by in Kent. The Lavers may have had one or more residences around Kent between 1834 and 1841.

As noted in the 1841 English Census, the Laver household definitively resided in Lyminge, Kent, about 14 miles west of Dover, and included George and Mary Ann and their children, Eliza, Augustus, Carolilne and Frances. (See, Source Citation Class: HO107; Piece: 478; Book: 12; Civil Parish: Lyminge; County: Kent; Enumeration District: 7; Folio: 5; Page: 2; Line: 3; GSU roll: 306873, accessed 05/09/2024.)

By 1851, the Lavers continued to live in Lyminge, inhabiting North Lyminge, as per the census of that year. The household had grown with thte addition of sisters Ellen and Emily as well as a domestic servant, Jane Andrews (born c. 1835 in Lyminge, Kent, England), but did not include Eliza and Caroline. As a solicitor, George Laver likely had more wealth than most local farmers or tradespeople, and would have had professional connections in town and county. These advantages may have enabled Augustus to also follow a professional career, that of architecture. Additionally, he was the only boy in a family of four girls, a factor that also may have focused some privilege on him growing up. (See, Source Citation Class: HO107; Piece: 1633; Folio: 375; Page: 28; GSU roll: 193536 Source Information 1851 England Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005, accessed 05/09/2024.)

In 1858, Laver was listed as being an architect and surveyor living on Norman Terrace in Dover, (See Melville´s Directory and Gazetteer of Kent, 1858, p. 191.) He married Elizabeth Fox in 1859 in Dover, and likely then decided to leave England for North America subsequent to this major event.

Laver migrated to the US first and thence to Ottawa, Canada. He and his wife lived in the Carleton section of Ottawa according to the 1861 Census of Canada. They lived with a young household worker, Annie Maguire (born c. 1842 in Ireland). The census form indicated that Elizabeth lost one female child at age one month during the year 1860. It also documented that the Lavers occupied a stone dwelling with six stories, although this fact may have been misrecorded. (See, Source Citation Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Returns For 1861; Roll: C-1101-1103 Source Information: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1861 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009, accessed 05/09/2024.)

While in Ottawa, he worked on the Canadian Parliament Building in Ottawa, working with the primary designers Thomas Fuller, Chilion Jones (1835-1912) and Charles Baillairgé (1826-1906). This team completed work on the Canadian Parliament between 1860 and 1867.

He and his family lived in a residence in Ottawa's Lower Town neighborhood on the east side of Daly Avenue at Cobourg Street in 1867. (See Ottawa City and Counties of Carleton and Russell Directory, 1866-1867, p. 102 and Sutherland’s Ottawa City Directory, 1868, p. 193.)

Laver moved to Albany, NY, by either late 1867 or early 1868 in order to work with his Ottawa colleague Thomas Fuller on the construction of the new New York State Capitol building, for which Fuller won a competition in 1867.

A notation in 1880 San Francisco voter records indicated that Laver was naturalized in New York, NY, in 1867. (See, Source Citation California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Registers, 1880; Collection Number: 4-2A; CSL Roll Number: 50; FHL Roll Number: 977199, accessed 05/09/2024.)

In 1868, the Lavers lived in East Greenbush, NY, a suburb about six miles southeast of Albany, NY, on the east side of the Hudson River. (See Albany, New York, City Directory, 1868, p. 103.) A partner in Fuller, Nichols and Company, Thomas Fuller, like Laver, was English-born and lived in East Greenbush in 1868. (See Albany, New York, City Directory, 1868, p. 67.) Laver and his family continued to live in East Greenbush for the length of his time working in Albany. (See Albany, New York, City Directory, 1875, p. 137.)

Fuller and Laver formed an architectural partnership by 1869, and they supervised the construction of the Capitol during the period 1869 through 1875. Progress in building the state legislative center was slow, mired in cost-overruns, graft and political in-fighting. (This happened also with CA's State Capitol in Sacramento, as well, at about the same time.) The construction process ran into serious problems with the sub-soil conditions (it was initially planned for a site that had quicksand on it), and other delays. The serious Depression that occurred after 1873 also did not help with managing building material supplies or labor for Fuller and Laver. By 1875, the State of New York had lost patience with the pair and replaced them with an architectural team led by Leopold Eidlitz (1823-1908) and the great Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886).

Architectural historian Kathryn Holliday summarized the capitol's initial building process: "The New York State Capitol had been slowly coming to life since 1867 under the guidance of architect Thomas Fuller. But budget overruns, construction delays, and mounting concern over the quality of the design caused the New York legislature to reconsider the award of the commission to Fuller. In 1875, after an expenditure of over $4 million, the building had only reached its second story. After a series of committee hearings, Eidlitz, Richardson and Olmsted were asked to write a report detailing what their plans would be if they were to take over the projects. The Advisory Board's report, which subjected Fuller's design to a scathing review, came out in 1876, Shortly thereafter, the Eidlitz & Richardson firm, formed specifically to deal with the capitol design, officially acquired the commission to complete the building." (See Kathryn E. Holliday, Leopold Eidlitz Architecture and Idealism in the Gilded Age, [New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2008], pp. 112-113.)

By 1875, Laver had multiple reasons for leaving Albany. First and probably foremost, the Albany building campaign became a shambles. Second, Fuller and Laver entered and won an 1871 competition to design a new City Hall and Courthouse for San Francisco. Third, his wife's health was apparently compomised by the hot-and-cold, humid climate of Ottawa, Albany and the East. According to 1887 testimony that Laver gave before a the City Hall Construction Commissioners of San Francisco County, he moved to San Francisco for his wife's health. He said: "The main reason was on account of my wife's health. It was not good in the East and we had been advised by physicians to come to California." (See "The New City Hall The Commissioners choose Augustus Laver as Architect," Daily Alta California, vol. 42, no. 13824, 07/07/1887, p. 8.) It is likely that his wife's health was the least urgent reason for relocation. Winning the 1871 San Francisco City Hall competition provided an immediate reason for relocating West. The scandal sourrounding Fuller and Laver's supervision of the Albany Statehouse also caused a deep division within the Eastern architectural profession in 1875 and likely seriously impinged the reputations of both architects in NY State, so much so that Fuller was forced to return to Canada to find employment by 1881.

Laver traveled to San Francisco by 1872 to start the building process for the City Hall and Courthouse. Initially, Laver may have traveled to and from Albany, but lived at least part-time at 620 Ellis Street and remained here into 1873. (See Langley's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1872, p. 390 and Langley's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1873, p. 367.) Between 1874 and 1888, Laver and his family resided at 2323 Howard Street in San Francisco. (See Langley's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1874, p. 395 and Langley's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1883, p. 649.) He continued to reside at 2323 Howard in 1888, as did his son, Charles. (See Langley's San Francisco Directory,1888, p. 719.)

By 1896, Laver had relocated to Alameda, CA and lived here in 1897. (See Crocker-Langley Company's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1896, p. 945 and Crocker-Langley Company's San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1897, p. 1031.) The architect also spent time in England during 1896.


His father George Laver (born c. 1795 on Noble Street, City of London, England-d. 06/1878 in London, England) worked as a solicitor in Lyminge, Kent, England. George had retired by 1861, according to the 1861 Census of England. Augustus's mother was Mary Ann Lewis (born c. 1807 in Hammersmith, Middlesex, England-d. 12/1865 in Kent, England). George and Mary Ann married on 03/01/1829 in Saint Mary, Surrey, England. (See, Source Information England, Select Marriages, 1538-1973 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014, accessed 05/09/2024.)

Augustus had at least five siblings: Elizabeth Laver (born c. 1830 in England), Caroline Laver (born c. 1837 in Kent, England), Francis Louisa Laver (born c. 1841 in Folkestone, England), Ellen Matilda Laver (born c. 1843 in Lyminge, Kent, England-d. 09/1860 in Kent, England), and Emily Laver (born c. 1845 in Lyminge, Kent, England).


Laver, while residing in Dover, married Elizabeth Fox (born c. 06/1834 in England-d. 02/18/1901 in Alameda, CA) on 06/09/1859 in Dover, Kent, England.

In 1861, an Elizabeth Fox, aged 72, was listed as a "boarder" living with George and Mary Ann Laver in Lyminge, England. This may have been another person by the same name actually boarding with Augustus's parents, or it could have been Augustus's wife with incorrect age information. (See, Source Citation Class: Rg 9; Piece: 553; Folio: 51; Page: 15; GSU roll: 542660 Source Information 1861 England Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005, accessed 05/09/2024.)

Augustus and Elizabeth owned some property in San Franicsco, that was sold after his death. Elizabeth Laver, the executor of his estate, sold a parcel of land to the Mutual Savings Bank for a price of $7,200. A notice in the San Francisco Call: "Elizabeth Laver (administratrix of the estate of Augustus Laver) (by H.P. Umbsen, commissioner) to Mutual Savings Bank, lot on SE line of City Hall avenue (Park avenue), 175 NE of City Hall Square (City Hall avenue), NE 25 by SE 100, City Hall lot 54; $7200." (See "Real Estate Transactions," San Francisco Call, vol. 90, no. 153, 10/310/1901, p. 15.) Two years later, Charles J.F. Laver sold another San Francisco land parcel. The San Francisco Call recorded: "Estate of Augustus Laver, by Charles J.F. Laver, administrator, sold to Andrew J. Martin, a lot on the southeast corner of Nevada and Vermont streets, E 200 by S 400, for $5000," in 1902." (See "Real Estate Transactions," San Francisco Call, vol. 87, no. 104, 09/12/1902, p. 11.)

An "Elizabeth Laver" was recorded as owning land near Tulare Lake in Tulare County, CA, in 1892. although it is hard to know if this is the same person. (See, Source Citation Collection Number: G&M_115; Roll Number: 115 Source Information U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010, accessed 05/09/2024.)


The 1900 US Census recorded that Elizabeth Laver had had ten children during her life. This may have been erroneuous, but al least one baby girl passed away in 1860, as noted in the 1861 Census of Canada. If Elizabeth Laver had serious health problems, and lost so many children in infancy, this may have contributed to Augustus's determination to move her from the East, with its extremes of climate, to the more temperate San Francisco.

In 1900, two sons remained alive: Francis George Fox Laver (born c. 03/1867) and Charles James Fox Laver (born c. 06/1868). US censuses disagreed as to their places of birth. That of 1870 indicated both had been born in Canada, while that of 1900 said NY. It is likely that Charles was born in Albany in 1868, because Augustus's professional focus had turned to the NY State House by that time. In Francis's case, he could have been born in either ON or NY, as the family was transitioning between the two places.

Biographical Notes

On 09/15/ 1896, Laver returned to New York, NY, from Southampton, England, aboard the American Lines steamship SS City of New York. (See, Source Citation The National Archives in Washington, DC; Washington, DC, USA; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897; Microfilm Serial or NAID: M237; RG Title: Records of the U.S. Customs Service; RG: 36, accessed 05/08/2024.) Laver started a will on 09/04/1896 while in Hammersmith, England (his mother's birthplace). This document left $2,000 to Katherine Fox, $3,000 to Emma Drew Gay, and "the balance to his dearly beloved wife to deal with the property to those whom she may deem fit." (See, Source Citation Probate Records of Alameda County, 1857-1920, and Wills Received By County Clerk, 1880-1970; Author: Alameda County (California). County Clerk; Probate Place: Alameda, California, accessed 05/09/2024.)

Associated Locations

  • Alameda, CA (Architect's Death)
    Alameda, CA

  • Folkstone, Kent UK (Architect's Birth)
    Folkstone, Kent UK

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PCAD id: 2115