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President Eliot's Dormitories

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Harvard Yard.
  • President Eliot's Dormitories (Keith Morgan)

Bridging Holworthy and University halls, Thayer Hall was one of three dormitories built by Charles W. Eliot following his election as president in 1869. Thayer (1869, Ryder and Harris), Weld (1870, Ware and Van Brunt), and Matthews (1871, Peabody and Stearns) halls represent Eliot's commitment to the concept of Harvard as a residential college during the first years of his tenure. Enrollment had risen dramatically, from fewer than 200 students during the early nineteenth century to 754 when Eliot took charge. Thayer, a massive brick structure with four-story wings flanking a five-story central pavilion, is the most restrained of the three buildings. Weld, a Jacobean design, and Matthews, which is Ruskinian Gothic, are picturesque masses with complex rooflines and oriel windows. Both Weld and Matthews reflect the strong desire on the part of Boston architects and their clients during this period to emulate English architectural trends.

Writing Credits

Maureen Meister


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Maureen Meister, "President Eliot's 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, 318-318.

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