Richardson, Henry Hobson

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Richardson, Henry Hobson

Henry Hobson Richardson, 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 H. R. Hitchcock, The Architecture of H. H. Richardson and His Times (1936, rev. ed. 1961); J. K. Ochsner, H. H. Richardson: Complete Architectural Works (1982); J. F. O'Gorman, H. H. Richardson (1987) and Living Architecture (1997).

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