Memorial Hall

<p>Memorial Hall tower, 2020.</p> <p>The Memorial Hall tower on a bright, sunny and cloudless day.</p>
<p>Memoriall Hall tower, 1932.</p> <p>The Memorial Hall tower photographed in 1932. An ornate clock sits atop its ediface.</p>

Memorial Hall

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."

  • <p>Memorial Hall, circa 1890.</p> <p>A black and white photograph of Memorial Hall taken in 1890.</p>
  • <p>Memorial Hall as viewed from below.</p>
  • <p>Memorial Hall today.</p> <p>A red brick building with a large rectangular section in the foreground. The rectangular section has a triangular roof with red, tan, and grey tiling in a striped pattern. In the front of the building and around the rectangular section are stained glass windows. The latter section of the building is a tower surrounded by four shorter towers. The tower roofs are also composed of red, tan, and grey tiles in a striped pattern. In the front of the building are barren trees and a black metal fence with a gate and a few brick columns separating parts of the metal fence.</p>
  • <p>Memorial Hall Transept today.</p> <p>A group of people stand in a room with very high ceilings. The walls and ceilings of the room are made of wood. On the left side of the room are carved arches and under the arches are stone slabs with engraved words. On the right side there is a large carved entrance with a curved top and additional carved arches with stone slabs. In the center of the room is a large chandelier and on the back wall is a large elaborate and colorful stained glass window with a curved top.</p>

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.

  • Memorial Hall