Henry Hobson Richardson, whose Richardson Romanesque buildings—inspired by 11th and 12th-century structures in Southern France, Italy, and Spain—is a cornerstone of yankee architecture. A gregarious man whose personality seemed an honest match for his striking, stately buildings; Richardson was born in 1838 and raised by a family of planters in Louisiana. An early mathematical prodigy, he began his schooling at Harvard establishing an early place in the northeast, furthermore as connections that may help him land impressive commissions for many years. In 1860, Richardson would go then on to be the second American to review at the esteemed École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, an excellent thanks to studying the classics while escaping the war. Forced to return before completing his studies—family financial backing had waned because of the national conflict—he moved to NY in 1865 and started his career.
He didn’t stand out during his early years, even scuffling with money because of lack of labor, but by the first 1870s, he had completed two commissions, Trinity Church and the Buffalo asylum, that may make him a national star. Inspired but not dedicated to European architecture, these and lots of other projects saw him establishing his signature style, full of heavy masonry walls, hipped roofs, curved arches, and sculptural forms. His work was a formative influence on the movement for homegrown American architectural innovation and helped him build a practice that may work on a good array of building types across the country. Richardson had become a star architect and reached the apex of a well-respected career when he tragically died from a kidney disorder in 1886 at age 47.
1. Old Colony Station (North Easton, Massachusetts: 1881)
A small station with an outsized reputation, this single-story building strikes an easy profile with asymmetric layout, a pair of waiting rooms, and an outsized roof. It’s one a series of structures commissioned by the Boston & Albany Railroad which Richardson designed with Japanese architecture in mind. Modelled partly on a temple and courtyard in Nikko, the actual station features a hipped roof that hangs over the grey granite and brownstone walls, furthermore as a Syrian arch which might become a trademark. Carved dragons decorate the beams above the windows. Projects like these which reference Japanese styles are called precursors to Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs.
2. Trinity Church (Boston, Massachusetts: 1877)
One of Richardson’s masterpieces, this house of worship has become an iconic example of his sturdy striking style. It portrays a way of massiveness through sheer size (90 million pounds of stone were used during construction) and design wise, with a series of towers and rough stone walls covered in balanced and bold ornamentation, like the checkerboard band circling the chapel. The open interior with murals and glass windows is additionally a showstopper. By combining elements of Romanesque styling which symbolized Pastor Philip Brooks’s belief in a very more honest church, and English Arts and Craft styles, Richardson created an influential template followed by many.
3. John J. Glessner House (Chicago, Illinois: 1886)
This severe-looking castle-like structure finished in 1887 for the number one executive of the International Harvester was Richardson’s final work. Because of its revolutionary layout, it also served as a fitting bookend to his career. A radical reworking of urban homebuilding, the look signified a shift towards more modern open layouts. Recognizing that construction advances meant thinner, stronger walls, and a brand new relationship between form and performance, Richardson pushed exterior walls to the sting of the property and planted an unlimited private courtyard within the centre of the lot with a personal light-filled urban residence.
4. Thomas Crane library (Quincy, Massachusetts: 1882)
Richardson considered this library one amongst his most successful civic projects with a layout that moves beyond traditional design and ornamentation via a well-considered comprehensive form. Form truly follows function here, from the tower that conceals a staircase to the window wall that reveals a room. The attractive sense of balance and ease is additionally evident in his choice of materials. The outside features simple lines of granite and sandstone, while the inside includes white pine ceilings.
5. New York State Asylum (Buffalo, New York: 1870)
A turning point early in his career, Richardson’s largest project now called the Richardson Olmsted Complex covers quite half 1,000,000 square feet. Richardson turned to landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted, a frequent collaborator for advice on sitting which led to the institution being oriented to the southeast to maximise daylighting. Consisting of 11 buildings with a central administration tower and five wards set back on both sides, the red sandstone and brick complex were more open and airy than similar structures at the time, pioneered a comparatively more humane method of treating psychopathy. The asylum stopped housing patients within the ‘70s and administration offices closed the ‘90s. Currently, the complex is being restored with the central building being the Hotel Henry Urban Resort and conference house furthermore because it is the home of the Buffalo Architecture Center.
6. Sever Hall at Harvard (Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1884)
Richardson’s design for this noted campus structure, a National Historic Landmark, could be a Harvard Yard classic. This work for his school features a facade of over 1.3 million cuts carved and moulded red bricks which required 60 differing types and sizes. Two round bays frame the central recessed entry, standing like turrets enhancing the fortress-like appearance. The general-purpose academic building continues to be in use and was praised by Robert Venturi as “his favourite building in America” for the way it balances a decorative facade with a functional, flexible interior.
7. Albany City Hall (Albany, New York: 1883)
This expansive seat of presidency stands as both an architectural masterpiece additionally as a metaphor for presidency spending and mismanagement. Built over three decades, the nascent structure saw numerous administrations and designers come and go before it had been finally finished. Richardson’s work on the limestone-clad building, notably the upper floors and roof work came to dominate the ultimate style of the structure. Inspired by the Hôtel de Ville, the Parisian hall, Richardson’s design was honoured when the building was made a National Historic Landmark in 1979.
8. Allegheny County Courthouse (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 1888)
Richardson considered his work of art a gorgeous open civic structure that helped form the cornerstone of a bigger complex in Pittsburgh. Built around an open courtyard, the structure is open and airy with a five-story tower facing Grant Street and two smaller towers within the rear. A walkway modelled after the Bridge of Sighs in Venice connects the building to the prison.
9. Marshall Field’s Wholesale Store (Chicago, Illinois: 1885)
Built for the famed retailer in an exceedingly style that references Italian palazzos, this seven-story structure in Chicago’s Loop was a poster landmark. The spacious interior built to store vast amounts of products was an example of “cage construction,” with the load-bearing exterior walls of red sandstone and granite supporting a skeletal interior of timber and steel. This interior design explains why Richardson’s detailed facade which featured heavy massing, also boasted four sets of arched windows with iron lintels to let light into the big floor plates. A Loop icon before it had been demolished in 1930; the shop would influence Louis Sullivan’s design for the Auditorium Theater.
10. Warder Mansion (Washington, D.C.: 1886)
A grand mansion built for a farm equipment manufacturer—the architect supposedly designed wide doorways to accommodate his expansive frame—it was in peril of being destroyed in 1923 after the initial owner’s widow kicked the bucket and developers sought to wreck it to create a way for commercial development. In 1923, architect George Oakley Totten, Jr., a student of Richardson, disassembled and reassembled the complete building, stone by stone, moving it to its present location in his motorcar Ford. After years of disrepair and a rotating cast of tenants, it’s now been reborn as a series of luxury apartments.
11. William Dorsheimer House (Buffalo, New York.:1868)
William Dorsheimer’s home is a historic home located at Buffalo in Erie County, NY that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. It was designed and built in 1868 by Henry Hobson Richardson (1838–1886) for William Dorsheimer (1832–1888), a prominent local lawyer and elected official of the latest York. The three-story building is of a comparatively simple design featuring incised decorations of rosettes and triglyphs. The house features horizontal bands of grey sandstone across the ochre brick facade and vertical stone at the building’s corners. The windows on the structure are framed by vertical bands of the identical grey sandstone and are in perpendicular rows. The mansard is formed of slate and features large dormers.
12. Oakes Ames Memorial Hall (Easton, Massachusetts.:1881 )
Richardson responded with a picturesque masterpiece using his signature architectural elements of rounded arches, dramatic rooflines, and heavy masonry adorned with medieval-inspired carvings. A robust silhouette against the sky, the huge structure sits high above the road on granite outcropping with a commanding view of its surroundings. The Memorial Hall nestles in natural surroundings designed by famed landscaper F.L. Olmsted, best known for brand New York’s Central Park.
Image Sources: Oakes Ames Memorial Hall ©www.wikipedia.org
13. Oaks Ames Memorial Library (Easton, Massachusetts.:1883 )
Richardson’s design for the Ames Library is rectangular in plan with the most important rooms, the stack wing, hall, and rooms arranged longitudinally. A broad gable projects forward from the north end of the longitudinal mass. This gable is marked by the arched entry to the skin porch on the primary floor and by a row of 5 arched windows separated by pairs of short columns supporting the arches on the second. The stack wing windows form a horizontal band, each group of three separated by four short columns. Construction is of warm, light-brown Milford granite laid in random ashlar with dark reddish-brown Longmeadow brownstone trim. The roof is red-orange tile over wood barrel-vaulted stack wing ceiling.
14. Ames Gate Lodge (Easton, Massachusetts.:1880 )
The Gate Lodge could be a remarkable synthesis of the oversize fence, arched gate, and gatehouse building. It forms an extended mass lying directly at the estate’s entry road, which runs southward within its dominating round arch. The huge walls appear to be crude loads of rounded boulders from the estate soil. The blocky two-story lodge proper stands west of the arch, and originally housed the estate gardener on the lower floor with rooms for bachelor guests above. Across the arch could be a long, low wing ending in an exceedingly circular bay once used for storing plants through the winter.
15. New York State Capitol (Albany, New York: 1899)
The central open court is dominated by a shaft intended to support a large dome. The dome and tower were never completed because it was found the building’s weight was causing stress fractures and making the building shift downhill toward State Street. To prevent this movement, a large 166-foot (51 m) long exterior Eastern Staircase was added to support the front facade. The Capitol exterior is created of white granite Assembly Chamber was built with the world’s largest open arched span. However, this produced very inconvenient acoustic results. A more significant issue was the structure’s shifting foundations that made the vaults unstable. A lower false ceiling was introduced to forestall rock shards from the vaults from falling to the assembly floor.