The multi-storey tenement block was the principal form of middle-class as well as working-class accommodation in Glasgow until well into the twentieth century. Its form derives from long traditions of building residential blocks of four or more storeys, and from characteristics of the Scottish system of landholding. Most tenements were built of stone, some of it from the builders’ own quarries, although brick was used for staircase towers on back elevations. The architectural style of many blocks was derived from Renaissance palaces, and some distinguished architects were involved in their design. They were as much subject to overcrowding as any other form of working-class accommodation, and conditions in many were squalid.
The National Trust for Scotland preserves and presents a first-floor four-room tenement of the early twentieth century, and has acquired the ground floor tenement below which is used for reception and exhibitions. The first floor tenement was the home for more than 50 years of Miss Agnes Toward, a spinster shorthand typist. She had broad interests and her collection of programmes for theatrical performances that she attended is displayed. There was no electricity in the block until 1960, and the Trust has restored gas lighting to the tenement.