Location: 45 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA
One of Harvard's oldest and most iconic edifices, Memorial Hall was created in 1870 as a tribute to Harvard graduates who fought for the United States Army and Navy in the Civil War. Restored and renovated in 1996, the building now includes a campus dining facility (Annenberg Hall), a landmark performance venue (Sanders Theatre), and a student gathering space (Loker Commons).
Memorial Hall is known for its multicolored brick tiling, turrets, and textural layering. These decorative details on the facade, as well as its towers and gargoyles, make it a renowned example of Ruskinian Gothic architecture, a style derived from the work of artist John Ruskin.
It is also unique in that alumni collaborated to fundraise and design the building in order to establish a communal gathering space for graduates; the building's original name was "Hall of Alumni." Fifty alumni successfully raised $370,000—a sum equal to one-twelfth of the University's endowment at the time and enough to hire architects William Robert Ware and Henry Van Brunt.
In 1870, Memorial Hall was given its current name; President Elliot called it "the most valuable gift the University has ever received, with respect alike to cost, daily usefulness, and significance."
In 1996, the building was restored and renovated by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (VSBA), a firm with experience working with campus and university buildings including Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and UPenn. In 2020, Harvard appointed a Committee on Visual Culture and Signage to advance racial justice on campus, and prioritized Annenberg Hall as an important physical space to evaluate and increase representation of the diverse voices and stories that make up Harvard's past, present, and future.