Grays Hall, Harvard (1863)

Grays Hall is a Harvard dormitory, built on the spot where Harvard’s earliest building, Old College, once stood. According to the Official guide to Harvard University of 1907:

Grays Hall, built in 1863 by the College, at a cost of nearly $40,000, is named for Francis Calley Gray, of the Class of 1809, a Fellow of the College from 1826 until 1836, John Chipman Gray, of the Class of 1811, a member of the Board of Overseers from 1847 until 1854, and William Gray, of the Class of 1829, a member of the Board of Overseers from 1866 until 1872, all three benefactors of the University.

This dorm was Harvard’s first building with water taps in the basement, freeing the residents from having to haul water in from pumps in Harvard Yard. Notable residents of Grays Hall have included: Norman Mailer, Frank Rich, Mo Rocca and Natalie Portman.

Matthews Hall, Harvard (1872)

According to the Official guide to Harvard University of 1907:

Matthews Hall, completed in 1872, at a cost of about $113,000, was the gift of Nathan Matthews, of Boston, who stipulated that half the net income from the dormitory should be used to aid needy and deserving scholars; students for the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church and sons of ministers of that church to be preferred. The fifteen Matthews Scholarships were thus established. This dormitory, containing 60 suites of rooms, is thought to stand on the site of the old Indian College, built in 1654.

When Matthews Hall was built, an earlier brick building, Dane Hall, had to be moved seventy feet to the south to make room. The new building, designed by Peabody and Stearns, has Ruskin-inspired Gothic ornamentation, but is symmetrical in its plan, maintaining a balance consistent with earlier buildings in Harvard Yard. Matthews Hall has had a number of interesting past residents, including Matt Damon, Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank, William Randolph Hearst, John Dos Passos and Ernest Thayer.

Signet Society, Harvard (1820)

Founded in 1870, the Signet Society is an artistic and literary club at Harvard University. After initially utilizing space on University property, the Society moved off campus to 46 Dunster Street in Cambridge. In 1902, the 1820 Federal-style house was remodeled by Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson, a firm more usually associated with the Gothic style. The centerpiece of the remodeling is a two story pavilion displaying a heraldic crest of the Signet arms by Pierre LaRose.

University Hall, Harvard (1814)


Designed by Charles Bulfinch, Harvard‘s monumental University Hall was built in 1813-1814. Loammi Baldwin, who designed the Middlesex Canal and Harvard’s Holworthy Hall of 1811-1812, supervised the construction of University Hall. Built of Chelmsford granite, it was Harvard’s first stone building. The first floor originally contained four dining halls, one for each class, with kitchens located in the basement. The second floor contained a chapel, marked on the exterior by tall arched windows. These initial interior arrangements have been completely altered over the years and the building‘s original portico was removed in 1842.

Harvard Hall (1766)


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.

Memorial Church, Harvard (1931)


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.

John Hicks House (1762)


Originally located on Dunster and Winthrop in Cambridge, the 1762 John Hicks House was later moved to its current address on John F. Kennedy Street to become the library of Harvard University‘s Kirkland House. A historic marker in front of the house explains that it was the home of John Hicks, who was killed by British soldiers in 1775. He was killed near the junction of North avenue and Spruce Street by the retreating British on April 19, 1775. The marker also indicates that the house was used by General Putnam as his office during the Revolutionary War. In 1773, the house was purchased by John Foxcroft. A car crashed into the house in 2006.