Henry Hobson Richardson

Personal Data

Henry Hobson Richardson was born on September 29, 1838, on the Priestley plantation in St. James Parish, Louisiana, the son of Henry Dickenson Richardson and his wife Catherine Caroline Priestley (daughter of William Priestley)

He married on January 3, 1867, in Boston, to Julia Gorham Hayden (b. 26Jul1837 in Boston; d. 15Sep1914 in Brookline), daughter of Dr. John Cole Hayden and his wife, Susan Ann B. Williams.

Henry Hobson Richardson died on April 27, 1886, in Brookline.


Henry Hobson Richardson graduated from Harvard in 1859 and attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.  He remained in France during the Civil War, working in the atelier of Theodore Labrouste and later for J. I. Hittorff, superintending some of Hittorff’s famous railroad station work.  At the conclusion of the war, he returned to the United States, settling in New York, first in Brooklyn and then (after his marriage) in Clifton, Staten Island.

In October of 1867, he formed a partnership with Charles D. Gambrill, which lasted until 1878.  In 1874, he moved to Brookline, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.

Richardson originated the “Richardson Romanesque” style, characterized (according to Bainbridge Bunting in Houses of Boston’s Back Bay) by “gloomy robustness” and evincing a “marked preference for the round arch, expansive wall surfaces of rough-textured masonry, areas of contrasting polychromy, and accents of fine-scaled, Byzantine-like sculptured decoration.”  His works include some of the most important buildings in American architecture, including Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square (1872-1877), a series of railroad stations designed for the Boston and Albany Railroad (1881-1885), the Ames Building in Boston (1882; burned in 1889), the Marshall Field Store and the J. J. Glessner House in Chicago (1885-1887), and the Allegheny County Buildings in Pittsburgh (1883-1888).

For more information, see: Henry Hobson Richardson and His Works; by Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1888; reprinted by Dover Publications, Inc., New York; 1969); Living Architecture: A Biography of H. H. Richardson; by James F. O’Gorman (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1997); H. H. Richardson Complete Architectural Works; by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner (MIT, 1992); andThe Spirit of H. H. Richardson on the Midland Prairies; edited by Paul Clifford Larson with Susan M. Brown (University Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis;  Iowa State University Press, Ames; 1988).

Back Bay Work

1870 164 Marlborough
1873 100-110 Commonwealth
1879 233 Clarendon
1881 274 Beacon (Demolished)