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Somerville Civic Center

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Highland Ave.
  • Somerville Civic Center (Keith Morgan)

Although the old high school built in 1852 forms the center section of the present City Hall (93 Highland Avenue, NR), little historic fabric has survived the addition of the south wing in 1896 and the complete renovation of both sections in 1923–1924. In this later renovation, Ritchie, Parsons and Taylor added a symmetrical north wing, a monumental entrance framed by Ionic columns in antis, and the third story and clock tower. This building has served as the city hall since 1872, when a new high school was completed to the east. In 1895 Hartwell and Richardson designed a major Romanesque addition to the 1872 high school in red brick and terra-cotta. The original high school was demolished in 1928, while the 1895 addition (81 Highland Avenue) underwent a major enlargement and remodeling designed by Frank Irving Cooper.

At the east end of the high school rises the Public Library (79 Highland Avenue, NR), a grand Renaissance-style design (1914) in buff brick, terra-cotta, and limestone by E. L. Tilden. He trained in the offices of McKim, Mead and White and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts before forming a partnership in New York with William A. Boring. Boring and Tilden designed the United States Emigration Station on Ellis Island and many libraries around the country. Tilden won the Somerville Library commission shortly after Boring's retirement, basing his design on McKim, Mead and White's Boston Public Library (BB42).

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Somerville Civic Center", [, 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, 403-403.

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