Artists & Designers

George Grant Elmslie (American, born in Britain, 1871-1952)

Born in Scotland, George Grant Elmslie settled in Chicago with his family in 1884. After high school, he entered the office of architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee and in 1889 joined the staff of the firm led by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. He served alongside the young Frank Lloyd Wright in both offices. In 1893, Adler & Sullivan appointed Elmslie chief draughtsman, a position he maintained with Sullivan following the dissolution of the partnership in 1895. In addition to preparing documents and design drawings, Elmslie also designed much of the exterior and interior ornament for Sullivan's building projects. In 1909, Elmslie left Sullivan's office to found his own practice alongside two partners, William Gray Purcell (1880-1965) and George Feick, Jr (1881-1945), in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Originally named Purcell, Feick & Elmslie and renamed Purcell & Elmslie in 1913, the firm's designs, including private residences and public structures, avoided obvious Beaux Arts forms and Neoclassical details and instead favored the more indigenous style of the Chicago Prairie School. Elmslie separated from Purcell in 1922 and subsequently practiced independently in Chicago through the late 1930s.

Drawn from

  • Charles Venable, DMA unpublished material (2002.11), 2002.

  • David Gebhard. "Purcell & Elmslie." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed July 15, 2015,

Web Resources

Minneapolis Institute of Art
Learn about the Purcell-Cutts House, designed by George Grant Elmslie and his partner William Gray Purcell.