The first building to be called Harvard Hall was completed in Cambridge in 1642 and is more commonly known as Harvard College or the Old College. This structure eventually collapsed in the 1670s. The next Harvard Hall was built in Harvard Yard between 1672 and 1682. This building was destroyed in a fire in 1764. A new Harvard Hall, often called the second Harvard Hall, designed by Sir Francis Bernard, was built in 1766 at the same location as its predecessor. This building first divided the Yard into two quadrangles. Substantial additions have been made over the years: the original building was augmented with a central pavilion in 1842 and two wings on either side of the pavilion in 1870.
Built to face the massive Widener Library across Harvard Yard, Memorial Church was built in 1931-2 and dedicated on Armistice Day 1932 in honor of those who died in World War I. Memorials to Harvard students who died in later wars have since been added inside the church. Memorial Church was designed in the Georgian Revival style by the architectural firm of Coolidge Shepley Bulfinch and Abbot.
Sever Hall, on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, is one of the most important buildings designed by the architect H.H. Richardson. Constructed between 1878 and 1880 in Richardson’s Romanesque style, Sever Hall is notable for its brickwork, which features 100,000 bricks on the exterior elevations and elaborate brick carving. Red mortar was used originally to join the bricks. The facade also has Longmeadow brownstone and a varied placement of windows. The massive structure is linked to the neighboring eighteenth century buildings of Harvard Yard through the use of brick, the greater regularity of the design and the central pediments on the east and west facades. Sever Hall, an academic building consisting of both large and small classrooms, was recently restored and the upper floors contain the film program of Harvard’s Department of Visual and Environmental Studies.
Harvard College was founded in 1636, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The oldest surviving building on the Harvard campus is Massachusetts Hall, located in Harvard Yard in Cambridge and built between 1718 and 1720. It was designed by the successive Harvard Presidents John Leverett and Benjamin Wadsworth. Originally a dorm, it housed many famous students during the colonial period, including John Adams, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry and James Otis. In 1722, when Thomas Hollis donated a quadrant and telescope, Massachusetts Hall also became the location of an informal observatory. During the Revolutionary War, the building was occupied by soldiers of the Continental Army. It has served many uses over the years, currently being the offices of the President of Harvard University and other administrators, who may soon take over the remaining areas of the building currently used as dormitory space. Please take a look at today’s companion post, about Yale’s Connecticut Hall, at Historic Buildings of Connecticut.