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Widener Library

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1913–1915, Horace Trumbauer. Tercentenary Quad.
  • Widener Library

Designed by Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer, Widener Library presides over Tercentenary Quadrangle. It stands on the site of Richard Bond's Gore Hall, a granite Gothic Revival library constructed in 1838–1841, which had been remodeled and expanded several times before it was demolished in 1913. The mother of Harry Elkins Widener, who had died on Titanic, gave the new library and stipulated that Trumbauer be retained. His colonnaded elevation for this massive brick structure set on a high basement, inspired by the Roman theater at Arles, provided an imperial backdrop to this space that was emerging as the heart of Harvard Yard. When the library design became known, leading figures within the Harvard and Boston architectural communities were appalled, believing that a more restrained Georgian elevation would have been preferable. In 1915 the Boston-based Architectural Review likened Widener to a “parvenu” among better “born and bred” associates. Murals by John Singer Sargent, a World War I memorial, decorate the main staircase landing.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Maureen Meister
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Citation

Maureen Meister, "Widener Library", [Cambridge, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MA-01-HY11.

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, 319-319.

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