Memorial Hall (Harvard University)

Memorial Hall (Harvard University)

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Memorial Hall (Harvard University)

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Memorial Hall is an imposing brick building in High Victorian Gothic style, located on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is now a National Historic Landmark.

Memorial Hall was erected in honor of Harvard graduates who fought for the Union in the American Civil War. From 1865 to 1868, a fund-raising committee gathered $370,000, then equal to one-twelfth of Harvard's total endowment, which was augmented by an additional $40,000 bequest from Charles Sanders, class of 1802 and college steward 1827-1831, for "a hall or theatre to be used on Commencement days, Class days, Exhibition days, days of the meetings of the society of Alumni, or any other public occasion connected with the College, whether literary or festive."

An architectural competition began in December 1865, with the winning designs submitted by William Robert Ware, class of 1852, and Henry Van Brunt, class of 1854. (These initial designs were altered as plans proceeded.) In 1870 the building was named Memorial Hall and its cornerstone laid; Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., composed a hymn for the occasion. The hall was dedicated for use in 1874, with Sanders Theatre substantially complete in 1875, and the tower completed in 1877. The tower was subsequently destroyed in a 1956 fire but rebuilt in 1999.

In The Bostonians, Henry James described it thus: "The Memorial Hall of Harvard consists of three main...
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