Joseph Ruggles Richards

Personal Data

Joseph Ruggles Richards was born on February 28, 1828, in Boston, the son of Wyatt Richards and his wife, Sarah Page Ruggles.

He married on August 27, 1851, in Natick, to Mary Ann Phillips (b. 18Jun1828  in Natick; d. 31Jan1917 in Cambridge), daughter of Thomas Phillips and his wife, Clarissa Brackett.

Joseph Richards died on September 28, 1900, in Cambridge.


Joseph Richards worked in the offices of Gridley J. G. Bryant, serving as his chief draftsman in 1849 when the firm developed the plans for the Charles Street Jail.  He remained there until 1853, when he opened his owner offices.  He was joined by his brother, Samuel W. Richards (who also had worked in Bryant’s office) until the mid-1860s.

In July of 1865, he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, William S. Park (husband of Joseph Richards’s sister, Sarah).  Richards and Park remained partners until Park’s death in July of 1872.  Thereafter, Richards practiced alone until 1880, when he took his son, William Phillips Richards, as his partner.  The firm of Richards and Richards continued until Joseph Richards’s death in 1900.

According to his obituary in the Transactions of the American Society of Engineers, “the State Capitol at Montpelier, Vt., was erected under his supervision, the drawings of another architect being handed to him to carry out and finish, and in 1885-1886 he designed and executed an annex to this building for the Supreme Court and the State Library.”  He also designed numerous other public and commercial buildings, as well as churches, apartment houses, and residences.

Among the works of Richards and Richards were the Jarvis and Stanstead apartment houses in Cambridge, the White apartments on Commonwealth in the Back Bay, the Boston Five Cents Savings Bank building in Woburn, the Royal Arcanum Building in Boston, and the Colored Odd Fellows Building in Boston.

Back Bay Work

1889 366 Commonwealth [Richards and Richards]
1890 362 Commonwealth [Richards and Richards]