Harvard Yard

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Coordinates: 42°22′28″N 71°07′02″W / 42.37447°N 71.11719°W / 42.37447; -71.11719

Harvard Yard Historic District
Harvard Yard is located in Massachusetts
Harvard Yard
Harvard Yard is located in the US
Harvard Yard
Location Cambridge, Massachusetts
Built 1718
Architect Multiple
Architectural style Georgian, Other, Federal
NRHP reference # 73000287[1] (original)
87002137 (increase)
Significant dates
Added to NRHP February 6, 1973
Boundary increase December 14, 1987

Harvard Yard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a grassy area of 22.4 acres (9.1 ha) enclosed by fences with twenty-seven gates.[2] It is the oldest part of the Harvard University campus, its historic center, and its modern crossroads.

Bounded principally by Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge Street, Broadway, and Quincy Street, it contains most of the freshman dormitories; Harvard's most important libraries; Memorial Church; several classroom and departmental buildings; and the offices of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Dean of Harvard College, and President of Harvard University. The center of the Yard—a wide grassy area bounded by Widener Library, Memorial Church, University Hall, and Sever Hall known as Tercentenary Theatre‍—‌is the site of annual commencement exercises and other convocations.

The western third of Harvard Yard, which opens onto Peabody Street (often mistaken for nearby Massachusetts Avenue) at Johnston Gate, is known as the Old Yard,[3] and around it cluster most of the freshman dormitories. Among these is Massachusetts Hall (1720), Harvard's oldest building and the second-oldest academic building in the United States.[4]

The original Harvard Hall on this site housed the College library, including the books donated by John Harvard—​all but one of which were destroyed when the building burned in 1764. Rebuilt in 1766, Harvard Hall now houses classrooms. Harvard Square is adjacent to the Old Yard.

Across the Old Yard from Johnston Gate is University Hall (1815), whose white-granite facade was the first to challenge the red-brick Georgian style until then ascendant;[5] between its twin west staircases stands the John Harvard statue.

Other features[edit]

Harvard Yard and environs, from the southeast. The Yard's most prominent buildings are massive Widener Library (center left), Memorial Church (opposite Widener), University Hall (just beyond Widener, white with chimneys), and Sever Hall (red roof, opposite University Hall)

Libraries in the Yard are Widener Library, its connected Pusey Library annex, Houghton Library for rare books and manuscripts, and Lamont Library, the main undergraduate library. Classroom and departmental buildings include Emerson Hall, Sever Hall, Robinson Hall, and Boylston Hall. The Harvard Bixi, a Chinese stele with inscribed text, is located near Widener.

The freshman dormitories of Harvard Yard include the upper levels of Massachusetts Hall, and Wigglesworth Hall, Weld Hall, Grays Hall, Matthews Hall, Straus Hall, Mower Hall, Hollis Hall, Stoughton Hall, Lionel Hall, Holworthy Hall, Canaday Hall, and Thayer Hall.

Nestled among Mower, Hollis, Lionel, and Stoughton Halls is Holden Chapel, home of the Holden Choirs. Nearby is Phillips Brooks House, dedicated to student service to the community. Wadsworth House houses the Office for Scholarly Communication, the Harvard University Librarian, the Office of the University Marshal, the Office of Commencement, and those of several professors. Loeb House is the home of Harvard's governing bodies: the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Hammond, Mason (Fall 1983). "The Enclosure Of The Harvard Yard". Harvard Library Bulletin. pp. 340–383. 
  3. ^ "Harvard Yard Historic District - MACRIS Details". Inventory of Historic Assets of the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Historical Commission. 1986-06-23. Retrieved 2011-01-07. Old Cambridge; Harvard Square 
  4. ^ Massachusetts Hall and the Wren Building at the College of William and Mary are both often described as the oldest; however, the Wren Building was built before Massachusetts Hall.
  5. ^ http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/02/the-art-of-architecture/\

External links[edit]