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Henry Hobson Richardson, American Architect
(1838 - 1886)
Raised just outside New Orleans less than a generation after the Louisiana
Purchase (1803), the architecture that surrounded the young Henry Hobson
Richardson were the colorful stucco designs now preserved
in New Orleans. Though his family was American, the predominant French
culture of the area insured his fluency in the language when he arrived
at Harvard (Class of 1859). Though Richardson had considered a military
career and applied to West Point, for uncertain reasons he was denied admission,
and instead attended Harvard.
When HH Richardson graduated, the the tensions which brought America to
civil war were already present. Rather than return to Louisiana or remain
in the North, Richardson studied in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. While
there, Richardson made several trips to London, and traveled through rural
England with his friend Henry Adams. He also traveled through Southern France
and Spain. Photography was considered a specialty art, and on these trips
he gathered photographic post cards which would comprise a library of over
3,000 images. The scholar Margaret Henderson Floyd notes these would later
hang in his office, and be referred to extensively in his writings.
He returned to the United States and began to practice as an architect in
New York. There he married and started a family on Staten Island. Richardson
served with on the Staten Island Commission with Fredrick
Law Olmsted. After completing several commissions in Boston, H.H. Richardson
relocated to Brookline, MA, in 1874, and would practice here for his remaining
twelve years. Olmsted relocated to Brookline in 1883, and enjoyed continued
friendship and collaboration with Richardson.
detailed description of Trinity Church's design and construction by its
architect, Henry Hobson Richardson.
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