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Definition: Richardson, Henry Hobson from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


US architect

Born in Priestley Plantation, Louisiana, he was educated at Harvard and studied architecture in Paris. He initiated the Romanesque Revival in the USA, leading to a distinctively US style of architecture. He designed a number of churches, especially Trinity Church, Boston (1872), the Allegheny Co Buildings in Pittsburgh and halls of residence at Harvard, and his range extended to private houses as well as railway stations and wholesale stores.

Summary Article: Richardson, Henry Hobson
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

1838–86, American architect, b. St. James parish, La., grad. Harvard, 1859, studied at the école des Beaux-Arts; great-grandson of Joseph Priestley. He was a major representative of romanticism in American architecture and was noted for his revival of Romanesque design. After employment in Paris, he began practice (1866) in New York City but moved to Brookline, Mass., in 1874. Trinity Church in Boston (1872–77) was his first monumental work; its French Romanesque design was a departure from the Gothic revival that controlled contemporaneous American architecture. In it and in subsequent works Richardson developed a free and strongly personal interpretation of Romanesque design. The style, known as Richardson Romanesque, spread and won many followers, exerting a great influence upon the building arts of the period, especially in the young, growing cities of Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. Richardson's buildings showed strength, simplicity, and a skillful employment of varied materials. In his country houses of wood he produced a distinct American type. He elevated the position of the minor crafts in his work, and to artists such as Augustus Saint-Gaudens and John La Farge he entrusted the important units of decoration. Among Richardson's principal works are the New Brattle Square Church, Boston; public library, Woburn, Mass.; courthouse and jail, Pittsburgh; Sever Hall and Austin Hall, Harvard; parts of the state capitol at Albany, in association with Eidlety and Olmsted; Glessner House, Illinois Institute of Technology; and the Marshall Field wholesale store, Chicago.

  • See Hitchcock, H. R. , The Architecture of H. H. Richardson and His Times (1936, rev. ed. 1961);.
  • Ochsner, J. K. , H. H. Richardson: Complete Architectural Works (1982);.
  • O'Gorman, J. F. , H. H. Richardson (1987) and Living Architecture (1997).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018