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Henry Hobson Richardson

Birthdate: (47)
Birthplace: Priestly Plantation, St James Parish, LA, USA
Death: April 27, 1886 (47) (Bright's disease, a kidney disorder)
Place of Burial: Brookline, MA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry Dickenson Richardson and Catherine Caroline Richardson
Husband of Julia Gorham Richardson
Father of [Mrs.] Shepley

Occupation: Architect
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About H. H. Richardson

Henry Hobson Richardson (September 29, 1838 – April 27, 1886) was a prominent American architect of the 19th century. His work left a significant impact on Boston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Albany, and Chicago, among other cities. The style he popularized is named for him: Richardsonian Romanesque.


   * 1 Biography
   * 2 Major work
   * 3 Other work
   * 4 Richardsonian Romanesque
   * 5 Replicas
   * 6 Chronological list of extant works
   * 7 Images
   * 8 Notes
   * 9 References
   * 10 External links

[edit] Biography

Richardson was born at Priestly Plantation in St. James Parish, Louisiana and spent part of his childhood in New Orleans, where his family resided on Julia Row in a red brick house designed by the architect Alexander T. Wood. He was the great-grandson of inventor and philosopher Joseph Priestley, who is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen.[1]

Richardson went on to study at Harvard College. Initially he was interested in civil engineering, but eventually shifted to architecture, which led him to go to Paris in 1860 to attend the famed École des Beaux Arts in the atelier of Louis-Jules André.

He didn't finish his training there, as family backing failed during the U.S. Civil War. Nonetheless, he was only the second US citizen to attend the École— Richard Morris Hunt was the first. The school was to play an increasingly important role in training Americans in the following decades.

Richardson returned to the U.S. in 1865. The style that Richardson favored, however, was not the more classical style of the École, but a more medieval-inspired style, influenced by William Morris, John Ruskin and others. Richardson developed a unique idiom, however, adapting in particular the Romanesque of southern France.

In 1869, he designed the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane (now known as the H. H. Richardson Complex) in Buffalo, New York, the largest commission of his career and the first appearance of his eponymous Richardsonian Romanesque style. A massive Medina sandstone complex, it is a National Historic Landmark and is presently the subject of an extensive restoration process.[2]

The 1872 Trinity Church in Boston solidified Richardson's national reputation and provided major commissions for the rest of his life. It was also a collaboration with the construction and engineering firm of the Norcross Brothers, with whom the architect would work on some 30 projects. Evidence of Richardson's contemporary recognition is that, of ten buildings named by American architects as the best in 1885, fully half were his: Trinity Church, Boston, Albany City Hall, Sever Hall at Harvard University, the New York State Capitol in Albany (as a collaboration), and Town Hall in North Easton, Massachusetts.

Richardson died in 1886 at age 47 of Bright's disease, a kidney disorder. He was buried in Walnut Hills Cemetery, Brookline, Massachusetts.

Though not a Richardson design, H. H. Richardson's house in Brookline, Massachusetts, should also be mentioned in any discussion of his buildings. Richardson spent much of his later years in the house and, due to poor health, had a studio attached in order to limit travel. The house fell into disrepair and was listed in 2007 as an endangered historic site.[3] However, the house was purchased in January 2008 for roughly two million dollars with an amended deed requiring that the building be historically restored.[4] The house is on a hill, where Richardson could supposedly watch construction of the Trinity Church (in Boston's Back Bay) from his second story window.

Major work Trinity Church, Boston (1872) is Richardson's most acclaimed work.

Richardson's most acclaimed work is Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston, part of one of the outstanding American urban complexes built as the center piece of the newly developed Back Bay. The Boston Public Library was built across from it later by Richardson's former draftsman, Charles Follen McKim. The interior of the church is one of the leading examples of the arts and crafts aesthetic in the United States. It was at Trinity that Richardson first worked with Augustus Saint Gaudens, with whom he would work many times in the ensuing years.

A series of small public libraries donated by patrons for the improvement of New England towns makes a small coherent corpus that defines Richardson's style: libraries in Woburn, North Easton, Malden, Massachusetts, the Thomas Crane Public Library (Quincy, Massachusetts), and Billings Memorial Library on the campus of the University of Vermont.[5] These buildings seem resolutely anti-modern, with the atmosphere of an Episcopalian vicarage, dimly lit for solemnity rather than reading on site. They are preserves of culture that did not especially embrace the contemporary flood of newcomers to New England. Yet they offer clearly defined spaces, easy and natural circulation, and they are visually memorable. Richardson's libraries found many imitators in the "Richardsonian Romanesque" movement.

Richardson also designed nine railroad stations for the Boston & Albany Railroad as well as three stations for other lines. These buildings were more subtle than his churches, municipal buildings and libraries, but still unmistakably his.

After his death, more than 20 other stations were designed in Richardson's style for the Boston and Albany line by the firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, all draftsmen of Richardson at the time of his death. Many Boston and Albany stations were landscaped by Richardson's frequent collaborator, Frederick Law Olmsted. Additionally, a railroad station in Orchard Park, New York (near Buffalo) was built in 1911 as a replica of Richardson's Auburndale station in Auburndale, Massachusetts. The original Auburndale station was torn down in the 1960s during construction of the Massachusetts Turnpike. The original Richardson stations on the Boston and Albany line have either been demolished or converted to new uses (such as restaurants). Two of the stations designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge (both in Newton, Massachusetts) are still used by Boston's MBTA (green line) public transit service.

Other work

   * Sever Hall, Harvard University (1880), brickwork, with molded brick string courses with turrets embedded in the walls, strips of windows, under a huge hipped roof as well as Austin Hall (Harvard University) (1882–1884) which followed a more traditional Richardson motif.
   * The Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, (1883–1888) connected by a bridge to its jail across the narrow street: cyclopean masonry and a tall tower
   * Marshall Field Warehouse, Chicago, Illinois (1887) (demolished 1930), graded variations in rusticated stonework, vast windowed arcading spanning three floors, with not a historical detail in sight

New York State Asylum, Buffalo, New York (1869)

   * Buffalo's New York State Asylum (1870), shown on the right, was the largest building of the master's career and the first to display his characteristic style. The complex was also the first of many projects on which he worked with Frederick Law Olmsted.
   * Emmanuel Episcopal Church (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
   * New York State Capitol (oversight and partial contribution)
   * John J. Glessner House, Chicago, Illinois (1887)

Richardsonian Romanesque Main article: Richardsonian Romanesque

Richardson is one of few architects to be immortalized by having the honor of having a style named after him. "Richardsonian Romanesque", unlike Victorian revival styles like Neo-Gothic, was a highly personal synthesis of the Beaux-Arts predilection for clear and legible plans, with the heavy massing that was favored by the pro-medievalists.

Significant to Richardson's style was his picturesque massing and roofline profiles, along with his mastery of rustication and polychromy, semi-circular arches supported on clusters of squat columns, and round arches over clusters of windows on massive walls.

Following his death, the Richardsonian style was perpetuated by a variety of proteges and other architects, many for civic buildings like city halls, county buildings, court houses, train stations and libraries, as well as churches and residences. These include:

   * the successor firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, who completed some two dozen unfinished projects and then continued to produce work in the same style, and continued to employ his collaborators the Norcross Brothers for construction and engineering expertise, Frederick Law Olmsted for landscape architecture, and the English sculptor John Evans for stonecarving
   * Stanford White and Charles Follen McKim, who worked in Richardson's office as young men, went on to form McKim, Mead and White and moved into the radically different Beaux-Arts architecture style
   * Richardson's great admirer Louis Sullivan adapted Richardson's characteristic lessons of texture, massing, and the expressive language of stone walling, particularly at Chicago's Auditorium Building, and these influences are detectable in the work of Sullivan's own student Frank Lloyd Wright
   * and Richardson found sympathetic reception among young Scandinavian architects of the following generation, notably Eliel Saarinen


Although many structures exist in the Romanesque style and some borrow so heavily that they are often mistaken for Richardson designs, several building have been built specifically to mimic a single Richardson structure.

   * Wellesley Farms Railroad Station - This structure was built by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge (draftsmen of Richardson) soon after Richardson's death. Although this firm built many stations in Richardson's style, they were specifically penalized for this one because it was so similar to Richardson's Eliot station in Newton, MA.[6] Eliot station was torn down in the 1950s.
   * A railroad station in Orchard Park, NY (near Buffalo) was built in 1911 as a replica of Richardson's Auburndale station in Auburndale, MA. The original Auburndale station, Richardson's first for the Boston & Albany Railroad and which was described by Henry Russell Hitchcock as "the best he ever built", was torn down in the 1960s during construction of the Massachusetts Turnpike.[7]
   * The Patrick F. Taylor Library, formerly known as the Howard Memorial Library, was built soon after Richardson's death. Residents of New Orleans had wanted an example of Richardson's work, a native son of New Orleans. The office of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge used a Richardson design which had been submitted and rejected some years earlier. This leads some, particularly those in New Orleans, to argue that this library is an original Richardson design. The library is currently part of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
   * The Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, California, was completed in 1906 and is heavily influenced by Richardson's designs, bearing a strong resemblance to Richardson's Sever Hall at Harvard.
   * Castle Hill Light is a lighthouse in Newport, RI which is often attributed to Richardson. Richardson drew a sketch for the lighthouse at that location which may have been the basis for the design, though the actual structure does not include the residence features in Richardson's sketch.

Chronological list of extant works John J. Glessner House, Chicago, Illinois (1885)

This is a list of works by Richardson:[8]

   * 1867 Grace Episcopal Church - Medford, MA
   * 1868 Benjamin W. Crowninshield House - Boston, MA
   * 1868 H. H. Richardson House - Clifton, Staten Island, NY
   * 1868 Alexander Dallas Bache Monument - Washington, DC
   * 1868 William Dorsheimer House - Buffalo, NY
   * 1869 Brattle Square Church (now First Baptist Church) - Boston, MA
   * 1869 New York State Asylum - Buffalo, NY
   * 1871 Hampden County Courthouse - Springfield, MA
   * 1871 North Congregational Church - Springfield, MA
   * 1872 Trinity Church - Boston, MA (National Historic Landmark)
   * 1874 William Watts Sherman House - Newport, RI
   * 1875 Hayden Building - Boston, MA
   * 1875 R. and F. Cheney Building - Hartford, CT
   * 1875 New York State Capitol - Albany, NY
   * 1876 Rev. Henry Eglinton Montgomery Memorial - New York, NY
   * 1876 Winn Memorial Library - Woburn, MA
   * 1877 Oliver Ames Free Library - North Easton, MA
   * 1878 Sever Hall - Cambridge, MA
   * 1879 Oakes Ames Memorial Town Hall - North Easton, MA
   * 1879 Rectory for Trinity Church - Boston, MA
   * 1879 Ames Monument - Sherman, WY
   * 1880 F.L. Ames Gate Lodge - North Easton, MA
   * 1880 Bridge in Fenway Park - Boston, MA
   * 1880 Stony Brook Gatehouse - Boston, MA
   * 1880 Thomas Crane Public Library - Quincy, MA (National Historic Landmark)
   * 1880 Dr. John Bryant House - Cohasset, MA
   * 1880 City Hall - Albany, NY
   * 1881 Austin Hall - Cambridge, MA
   * 1881 Boston & Albany Railroad Station - Palmer, MA
   * 1881 Pruyn Monument - Albany, NY
   * 1881 Rev. Percy Browne House - Marion, MA
   * 1881 Old Colony Railroad Station - North Easton, MA
   * 1882 Grange Sard, Jr., House - Albany, NY
   * 1882 Mary Fisk Stoughton House - Cambridge, MA
   * 1883 Billings Memorial Library - Burlington, VT
   * 1883 Emmanuel Episcopal Church - Pittsburgh, PA
   * 1883 Connecticut River Railroad Station - Holyoke, MA
   * 1883 Allegheny County Buildings - Pittsburgh, PA
   * 1883 Robert Treat Paine House - Waltham, MA
   * 1883 Boston & Albany Railroad Station - Framingham, MA
   * 1884 Boston & Albany Railroad Station (Woodland, part of Newton) - Newton, MA
   * 1884 F.L. Ames Gardener's Cottage - North Easton, MA
   * 1884 Immanuel Baptist Church - Newton, MA
   * 1884 Ephraim W. Gurney House - Beverly, MA
   * 1885 Converse Memorial Building/Library - Malden, MA (National Historic Landmark)
   * 1885 Benjamin H. Warder House - Washington, DC
   * 1885 Bagley Memorial Fountain - Detroit, MI
   * 1885 John J. Glessner House - Chicago, IL (National Historic Landmark)
   * 1885 Marshall Field's Wholesale Store - Chicago, IL
   * 1885 Boston & Albany Railroad Station - Wellesley Hills, MA
   * 1885 Union Passenger Station - New London, CT
   * 1885 Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, PA
   * 1886 Lululaund or the Sir Hubert von Herkomer House - Bushey, Hertfordshire, England
   * 1886 Dr. H.J. Bigelow House - Newton, MA
   * 1886 Isaac H. Lionberger House - St. Louis, MO


     Church of the Unity, Springfield, Massachusetts (1866-69). Richardson's first commission.
     Grace Episcopal Church, Medford, Massachusetts (1867)
     Crowninshield House, Boston, Massachusetts (1868)
     William Dorsheimer House, Buffalo, New York (1868)
     H.H. Richardson Complex, New York State Asylum for the Insane, Buffalo, New York (1869). First building using the Richardsonian Romanesque style.
     Brattle Square Church (now First Baptist Church), Boston, Massachusetts (1869)
     Hampden County Courthouse, Springfield, Massachusetts (1871)
     Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts (1872)
     William Watts Sherman House, Newport, Rhode Island (1874)
     Hayden Building, Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts; (1875) Last remaining commercial building in Boston
     Cheney Building, Hartford, Connecticut (1875)
     Winn Memorial Library, Woburn, Massachusetts (1876)
     Ames Free Library, North Easton, Massachusetts (1877)
     Sever Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1878)
     Rectory for Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts (1879)
     Oakes Ames Memorial Hall, North Easton, Massachusetts (1879)
     Ames Monument, Laramie, Wyoming (1879)
     Albany City Hall, Albany, New York (1880)
     Ames Gate Lodge, North Easton, Massachusetts (1880)
     Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy, Massachusetts (1880)
     Austin Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1881)
     Auburndale Railroad Station, Boston & Albany Railroad, Auburndale, Massachusetts (1881, demolished 1960s).
     Old Colony Railroad Station, Boston & Albany Railroad, North Easton, Massachusetts (1881)
     Mary Fiske Stoughton House, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1882-83)
     Robert Treat Paine Estate, Waltham, Massachusetts (1883)
     Converse Memorial Library, Malden, Massachusetts (1883)
     Allegheny County Buildings, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1883)
     Billings Memorial Library, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont (1883)
     Framingham Railroad Station, Boston & Albany Railroad, Framingham, Massachusetts (1883)
     Wellesley Railroad Station, Boston & Albany Railroad, Wellesley, Massachusetts (1884)
     Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1885)
     New London Union Station, New London, Connecticut (1885)
     Marshall Field's Wholesale Store, Chicago, Illinois (1885, demolished 1930s)
     John J. Glessner House, Chicago, Illinois (1885)
     Bagley Memorial Fountain, Detroit, Michigan (1885)
     Lucius Tuckeman Mansion, Washington, D.C. (1885)
     Lululaund or the Sir Hubert von Herkomer House - Bushey, Hertfordshire, England (1886)


  1. ^ Van Rensselaer, Mariana Griswold, Henry Hobson Richardson and His Works, Dover Publications, Inc. NY 1959 (Reprint of 1888 edition) p 1
  2. ^ "Buffalo State Hospital." National Historic Landmarks Program. (2009-01-11)
  3. ^ National Trust For Historic Preservation Press Website - H.H. Richardson House in Brookline, Massachusetts
  4. ^
  5. ^ UVM Billings History - Provost
  6. ^ A Field Guide to Southern New England Railroad Depots and Freight Houses by John H. Roy, Jr.
  7. ^ Auburndale Railroad Station from Historic American Buildings Survey
  8. ^ H.H. Richardson Complete Architectural Works by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, 1982


   * Breisch, Kenneth A,. Henry Hobson Richardson and the Small Public Library in America: A Study in Typology, MIT Press, 1997
   * Floyd, Margaret Henderson, Henry Hobson Richardson: A Genius for Architecture, Monacelli Press, NY 1997
   * Hitchcock, Henry Russell, The Architecture of H. H. Richardson and His Times, Museum of Modern Art, NY 1936; 2nd ed., Archon Books, Hamden CT 1961; rev. paperback ed., MIT Press, Cambridge MA and London 1966
   * Larson, Paul C., ed., with Susan Brown, The Spirit of H.H. Richardson on the Midland Prairies: Regional Transformations of an Architectural Style, University Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and Iowa State University Press, Ames 1988
   * Meister, Maureen, ed., H. H. Richardson: The Architect, His Peers, and Their Era, MIT Press, Cambridge MA 1999
   * Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, H.H. Richardson: Complete Architectural Works, MIT Press, Cambridge MA 1984
   * Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, and Andersen, Dennis A., Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and the Legacy of H. H. Richardson, University of Washington Press, Seattle 2003
   * O'Gorman, James F., Living Architecture: A Biography of H. H. Richardson, Simon & Schuster, NY 1997
   * O'Gorman, James F., H. H. Richardson: Architectural Forms for an American Society, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1987
   * O'Gorman, James F., H. H. Richardson and His Office: Selected Drawings, David R. Godine, Boston 1974
   * Roth, Leland M., A Concise History of American Architecture, Harper & Row publishers, NY, NY 1979
   * Shand-Tucci, Douglas, Built in Boston: City and Suburb, 1800 - 1950, University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA 1988
   * Van Rensselaer, Mariana Griswold, Henry Hobson Richardson and His Works, Dover Publications, Inc. NY 1959 (Reprint of 1888 edition)
   * Van Trump, James D., "The Romanesque Revival in Pittsburgh," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 16, No. 3 (October 1957), pp. 22–29

External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to: H. H. Richardson

   * Richardson's present day successor firm, Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott
   * Henry Hobson Richardson at the Open Directory Project
   * Henry Hobson Richardson at Find a Grave
   * The 53 extent Richardson sites and his Brookline, MA house

Source: Downloaded April, 2011, from

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H. H. Richardson's Timeline

September 29, 1838
St James Parish, LA, USA
April 27, 1886
Age 47
Brookline, MA, USA