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Noble and Greenough School

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10 Campus Dr.
  • Nickerson Mansion (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

Henry-Russell Hitchcock called the huge stone mansion at the center of Noble and Greenough School “one of the earliest and best” works by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. Albert Nickerson asked H. H. Richardson to design a house for Riverdale, his country estate; after Richardson's death, Charles Coolidge completed the design for Richardson's successor firm and the Norcross Brothers built it in 1890. The Dedham granite and brownstone pile bends around its hillside site with a large polygonal stair tower flanked by circular towers on the entrance face and two tiers of inset balconies overlooking the athletic fields and the river.

Founded as a boys' school in 1866 by George Washington Copp Noble (headmaster until 1918), “Nobles” today is a coed day/boarding school. Nobles occupied six different sites on Beacon Hill before buying Riverdale in 1921. The 187-acre campus, a mostly wooded rocky hilltop, slopes down to the Charles River. Charles Wiggins, headmaster from 1920 until his death in 1943, had worked for architect R. Clipston Sturgis (a Nobles graduate) and designed the complementary Stillman Wing to Nickerson's house (now the Castle). Nobles alumnus William G. Perry of Perry, Shaw and Hepburn designed The Schoolhouse (now Shattuck), the red brick Colonial Revival main academic building, in 1921, expanding it in 1926. John Radford Abbot designed three extensions to Shattuck: 1948–1949, 1955 (Stillman Science Wing), and 1961–1962 (Lowell).

In the 1970s, Nobles further expanded Shattuck from a linear row to a quadrangle, adding three distinctive square structures with pyramidal roofs by Hugh Stubbins: an administrative wing and Lawrence Auditorium (both 1974) and Putnam Library (1975). The first two, joined by a glass-walled corridor, form an inviting entrance to the campus, with Putnam and Pratt Middle School (1992) completing a central quadrangle, nicknamed the Beach by students. Ed Frenette of Sims Meaney McKee designed Pratt and Baker (1996).

To take advantage of its frontage on the Charles River, Nobles built Saltonstall Boathouse in 1924, the first of many athletic facilities, including gymnasia by Wiggins (1931–1937) and Abbot (1964). The latest additions include Flood Hockey Rink (1963), roofed over in 1978 and expanded in 1995 by Richard Bertman of CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares, and Morrison Athletic Center (2000, Philip Laird and Henry Wheeler of Architectural Resources Cambridge). All of these structures, except the original mansion, are built of red brick with white trim and usually pitched roofs.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Noble and Greenough School", [Dedham, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 541-542.

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