H. H. Richardson ~ First American Architect

MassMoments reminds that Henry Hobson Richardson was born on this day – September 29, 1838. During his short life, Henry Hobson Richardson designed churches, courthouses, train stations, libraries, and other important civic buildings. Featuring semicircular “Roman” arches set in massive stone walls, Richardson’s unique style became known as “Richardsonian Romanesque” – the first and only architectural style ever named after an American. Richardson is known as the “First American Architect” because he broke away from European traditions and designed buildings that stood out as truly original. A Harvard grad, Richardson made Boston and later Brookline his home. He designed many Massachusetts buildings and influenced many others with his “Richardsonian Romanesque” style such as the City Hall and Public Library (Pollard Memorial Library) in Lowell.

Pollard Memorial Library and Old City Hall, Lowell Poster

On This Day...

      …in 1838, Henry Hobson Richardson, one of the true geniuses of American architecture, was born. A native of Louisiana, he received his architectural training in Paris. But the ties he formed during his years at Harvard College, including marriage to a Bostonian, led him to make Boston his home. He designed nearly 80 buildings, including churches, libraries, railroad stations, and private homes, many of them in Massachusetts. His buildings were visually striking and beautifully proportioned. He used forms inspired by early medieval churches, including rounded arches, massive towers, and rugged stone walls, with blocks often laid in bands of contrasting color. Widely copied across the nation, “Richardsonian Romanesque” became the first and only architectural style ever named after an American.