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Memorial Church, Harvard University

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1931, Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott. Tercentenary Quad.
  • Memorial Church, Harvard University

Brahmin Bostonians saw their taste affirmed when Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott received the commission for Memorial Church. Located on the site of Appleton Chapel, it is generally consistent with the Coolidge style, red brick with white wooden-trimmed Georgian Revival designs, so widely adopted on the Harvard campus under President A. Lawrence Lowell. The tower, which reinterprets the design of Old North Church (Christ Church, North End, Boston, NE12), asserted the shared history of Harvard and Yankee Boston. Rising high over the Yard, the tall, thin spire establishes a center for the campus. Although the heavy Doric porches—one used as the entrance to the church and the second, facing Widener Library (HY11), as the backdrop for university graduations—come as a surprise in an otherwise finely detailed design, their massiveness works well with the height of the spire to counter the library across the lawn.

Writing Credits

Maureen Meister


What's Nearby


Maureen Meister, "Memorial Church, Harvard University", [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, 319-320.

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