Ames Building (1889)

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The Ames Building, at 1 Court Street and Washington Mall in Boston, was built in 1889 (although interior work was not completed until 1893) and is considered to be Boston’s first skyscraper. For a number of years the 13-story building dominated the city’s skyline. The building was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style by the successors of H. H. Richardson: the firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. It is the second tallest masonry bearing-wall structure (9 feet thick at the base) in the world. The building, left unoccupied for eight years, is now being renovated by Tishman Construction Corporation of New York to become a luxury hotel.

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Chicopee Bank Building (1889)

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On the corner of Main and Elm Streets (along the on the southeast corner of Court Square) in Springfield stands the imposing Chicopee Bank building, built in 1888-1889. Designed by the local architect, F.S. Newman, in the Romanesque Revival style, the building’s corner entry below a three-story oriel window with turret is a dramatic architectural statement. In the seventeenth century, the land where the bank would be built was the home lot of John Woodcock and then of Francis Ball. According to Springfield Present and Prospective (1905), the Chicopee Bank was started “twenty-two years after the Springfield bank, by the class of small traders and mechanics whose needs were looked upon with some disdain by the aristocracy of the old bank, whose funds were all absorbed in carrying the great manufacturing enterprises of the time.” It became the Chicopee National Bank in 1865. The Old Chicopee Bank building, built in 1835, occupied the site before being replaced its red brick and brownstone successor. The frontage of the first floor shops has been altered in recent times.

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Trinity Church, Boston (1877)

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Boston’s Trinity Parish (established in 1734) lost its church on Summer Street in an 1872 fire. They held a design competition for the building of a new church on Copley Square. The winner was H. H. Richardson, whose Romanesque design contrasted with his competitors’ preference for the Victorian Gothic. Richardson, who would produce in Trinity Church one of America’s great buildings, planned the building as a compact Greek Cross with a very prominent central tower. This centralized plan contrasted with the more typical narrow Latin Cross, in which clergy and congregation were separated. In the course of construction (1872-1877), the plan for the tower was eventually altered to a more complex design, inspired by the Cathedral of Salamanca and possibly influenced by Stanford White, who was apprenticing under Richardson at the time. Granite and Longmeadow sandstone were used in the construction. The interiors were realized by the artist, John La Farge, assisted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Richardson wished to rebuilt the two front towers, lowering them. Alterations were eventually made after his death when the portico and new towers were added between 1894 and 1897 under the successor of his practice, Hugh Shapley (of Shapley, Rutan, and Coolidge). More recently, geothermal wells have been drilled for heating and cooling. The adjoining Parish House (1874) has features which link it stylistically to the church.

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Sever Hall, Harvard (1880)

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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.

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