Hippolyte Blanc lived from 8 August 1844 to 17 March 1917. He was an architect best known for his Gothic Revival styled churches and his restoration work. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Hippolyte Blanc was born in Edinburgh, the son of French parents who ran a business importing and selling ladies' shoes. He was educated at George Heriot's School, and from 1859 was apprenticed to the architect David Rhind. At the same time he attended lectures at the predecessor to the Edinburgh College of Art, where he met Thomas Ross, who shared his interest in medieval architecture. In 1864 Blanc joined the Government Office of Works, becoming a senior draughtsman five years later. In 1873 He married Elizabeth Shield.
Blanc began undertaking private commissions in about 1871. He won the design competition for Christ Church, Morningside, in 1875 and a year later won another for Mayfield Free Church. He gave up his Government work in 1878 to concentrate on his private practice, and in 1887 he took on James Gordon as a partner. Among his pupils was John Begg. Schisms in the Kirk made this a very active period for church building, and Blanc went on to produce over thirty churches, many Free Churches or United Presbyterian Churches, and many in the Gothic Revival style. A notable example was St Cuthbert's Church, at the west end of Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. He was also involved in restoration work, such as that to Edinburgh Castle and John Knox's House, both in 1886; and St Duthac's Church, Tain, in 1896. One remarkable but little known survival of his work is Bangour Village Hospital, where in 1898 Blanc won a competition to design a complex of buildings to form a new kind of mental hospital on a site close to modern day Livingston.
In 1871 Blanc was elected President of the Edinburgh Architectural Association, a position he would hold three times. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He was elected to membership of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1896, going on to serve as its president from 1907 to 1917. He also served as President of the Edinburgh Photographic Society from 1888 until 1892. In 1910 he was asked to become a member of a Royal Commission managing Britain's role in a series of international exhibitions. In 1912 Blanc took his son Frank into partnership, and the following year retired from active involvement. Hippolyte J. Blanc & Son continued in business until 1950. Hippolyte Blanc died in 1917 and was buried in Warriston Cemetery.