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Early Riverfront Dormitories

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Memorial Dr. and J. F. Kennedy St.

Charles Coolidge and his partners designed three new dormitories for Harvard in 1912–1914 that began a reorientation of the campus toward the Charles River. Built as Smith Hall, Kirkland House included a dining hall, a library, and public rooms. The most prominent elevation of Kirkland House, fronting on John F. Kennedy Street, is organized around a central mass that recalls Massachusetts Hall (HY2) with pairs of chimneys and a gambrel roof surmounted by a balustrade. In 1928, the Hicks House (1762) was relocated next to Kirkland House to serve as its library, marking the first effort by Harvard to preserve a building that was not related to its own institutional history. From Dunster Street, Kirkland House is entered through a passageway, vaulted in Guastavino tile that opens onto a square courtyard.

Like Charles McKim in his design for the Harvard Union (see HY18) in 1900–1902, Coolidge also turned to English sources. The two buildings of Winthrop House, originally the Gore and Standish halls of 1912–1914, are planned around broad open courts, reminiscent of English manors. Gore Hall reinterprets Christopher Wren's garden facade of Hampton Court, while Standish Hall features a roofline that borrows from Harvard Hall (HY3), with pediments projecting from a hipped roofline.

Writing Credits

Maureen Meister


What's Nearby


Maureen Meister, "Early Riverfront Dormitories", [Cambridge, 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, 335-335.

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