Thomas William Silloway, son of Thomas Silloway, Sr., and Susan Stone Silloway, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on August 7, 1828. He was educated in the public schools in Newburyport. At age 16, his father apprenticed him to Robert Gunnison, a master carpenter, but he soon abandoned this apprenticeship and opened a West India dry goods store. In 1847, he moved to Boston to study architecture under Ammi B. Young. Silloway began practicing architecture on his own in Boston in 1851.
His earliest commissions included the Pearl Street Universalist Church and a new town hall in Milford, Massachusetts, both completed in the 1851-52 period. In 1857, when he was only 29 years old, he was hired to design a new capitol building for the state of Vermont. The original 1836 Vermont State House, the work of his mentor, Ammi B. Young, had been gutted by fire in January 1857. Although he was eventually dismissed from the project for using only the best and most expensive materials, the University of Vermont conferred on him an honorary MA for his work in 1862.
In 1844, while still in Newburyport, Silloway had converted from Methodism to Universalism. In 1862, he entered into active ministry, serving the Universalist Church in Kingston, New Hampshire, Boston's First Universalist Church, and the Brighton Universalist Church, resigning from that post in 1867 to fulfill the increasing number of his architectural commissions.
He designed numerous schools, academies, colleges, libraries, asylums, town halls, churches, and many private residences. His Soldier's Monument in the Cambridge Common was designed in 1869. After an earthquake in 1886 did major damage to Charleston, South Carolina, he received the commission to supervise the reconstruction of six of the city's churches. When he died on May 17, 1910, the Boston Transcript credited him with having designed over 400 religious edifices all over the eastern part of the United States, from Maine to South Carolina to Minnesota.
For more information, see Christian Leader, Mar. 22, 1941, p. 227; Appleton's Encyclopaedia of American Biography (1888), p. 530; and Who Was Who in America, v. 1, p. 1126. [Photo: bMS 900/43 (16)]