Essential Architecture- New England

Sever Hall


Henry Hobson Richardson , FAIA


Harvard University, Cambridge, MA




Richardsonian Romanesque


About 1.3 million bricks were used in its construction. Of these, some 100,000 form the exterior facades, which feature 60 different varieties of red molded brick, as well as elaborate brick carvings.


academic building with classrooms, lecture halls, rooms for professors, etc. Education
Sever Hall is a notable building designed by famed American architect H. H. Richardson. It is located on the grounds of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is now a National Historic Landmark.

Sever Hall was built from 1878-1880 with a gift from Anne Sever in honor of her deceased husband, James Warren Sever. It was designed as an academic building with classrooms, lecture halls, rooms for professors, etc., in a style now known as Richardsonian Romanesque though in red brick rather than stone.

The building is 176 feet and 4 inches long, by 74 feet and 4 inches wide, with a height to cornice of about 50 feet, above which the hipped roof rises a further 30 feet. It is three stories tall, with a fourth story set within the roof. The main facade (west side) features two round bays set symmetrically about an entrance within a deeply recessed semi-circular archway. The east facade is similar but with a simpler, rectangular entrance. North and south facades are relatively austere expanses punctuated with windows.

Moses King, The Harvard Register, Harvard University, 1880, page 35.
Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause, Precedents in Architecture, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. ISBN 0-442-21668-8.
Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, H. H. Richardson, Complete Architectural Works, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1982.