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Building in Harvard Yard

Many of Harvard’s historic buildings, several of which date back to the 18th century, still stand today. Massachusetts Hall (1720), Wadsworth House (1726), and Holden Chapel (1744) are the earliest. Hollis Hall has been a dormitory since it was built in 1763.

Although nothing remains of the University’s original 17th-century buildings, brass markers in the middle of Massachusetts Avenue now indicate where the Goffe and Peyntree Houses once stood.

Harvard Hall (1766) stands on the site of a 17th-century building of the same name. It burned down one wintry night in 1764, destroying the 5,000-volume college library, then the largest in North America.

Old Stoughton College suffered so much damage from occupation by Continental troops during the Revolution that it had to be torn down in 1781. A new Stoughton Hall (1805), Holworthy Hall (1812), and University Hall (1815) now form the outline of the original Yard.

The College began taking on the aspect of a true university in the 19th century, when a library building (1841), an observatory (1846), a scientific school (1847), a chemistry laboratory (1857), and a natural history museum (1860) were built.

Early in the 20th century the professional schools each acquired a new building: Medicine in 1906, Law in 1907, and Business Administration in 1926. The great central library building, named for Harry Elkins Widener, who perished on the Titanic, dates from 1915. The present Fogg Museum dates from 1927, and the Mallinckrodt chemical laboratory from 1929.

During the presidency of Nathan Marsh Pusey (1953–1971), government subsidy for science enabled the building and renovating of major facilities in the areas of medicine, public health, and the basic and applied sciences.