Harvard Hall, Boston

Harvard Hall, Boston

On the north side of Johnston Gate stands Harvard Hall, one of the two campus elders, with a birth certificate dating all the way back to 1766. (The other ancient one is Massachusetts Hall, staring it down from directly across the street.)

Believe it or not, the original building sprouted here in 1672 – but, surprise, surprise, it got demolished a mere eight years later. The second attempt at a building was a bit of a hot mess, both figuratively and literally, as it went up in flames in 1764. This fiery episode took with it thousands of books and fancy scientific instruments that were contained in its library.

But third time's the charm, right? The current Harvard Hall, in all its Georgian-style glory, was constructed between 1764 and 1776 with a mix of brick, granite, and brownstone. And guess who was there during this reconstruction project? None other than Benjamin Franklin himself, offering some pro bono advice on replacing those lost scientific gizmos.

Back in the day, Harvard Hall was the ultimate academic multitasker, having played host to a library, a cafeteria (probably with some seriously ancient mac 'n' cheese), classrooms, and science labs. Over the years, it's undergone more face-lifts than a Hollywood superstar. In 1842, it got a fresh makeover, complete with a two-story porch – very fancy. Then, in 1870, it had another renovation, because why not? And just when you thought Harvard Hall couldn't possibly get any more glamorous, they kicked off another round of renovations in 2019. The exterior got all spruced up to look like it did back in 1870, with brick restoration and some perfectly matched paint. On the inside, they brought in all the modern tech gizmos to keep this historic building feeling fresh and relevant.

So, Harvard Hall might be getting older, but it's still keeping up with the times!

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Harvard Hall on Map

Sight Name: Harvard Hall
Sight Location: Boston, USA (See walking tours in Boston)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Boston, Massachusetts

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Bunker Hill Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.8 Km or 0.5 Miles
North End Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Harvard University Walking Tour

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The United States’ oldest institution of higher education (and, of course, among the most prestigious), Harvard was established in 1636. Reverend John Harvard, who bequeathed his entire library and half of his estate, is the University’s namesake. Presidents, billionaires and Rhodes Scholars are only some of the illustrious graduates; in fact, Harvard has more Nobel Prize-winning alumni,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
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One of the top shopping destinations in the US northeast, Boston has a strong network of interesting stores, galleries and boutiques to visit along with its many high-class shops, some of which are nestled inside historical buildings. Shopping here in more than one way mirrors the city itself: an amalgamation of classic and vanguard, the handmade and the high-end, and both local and international...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
Historical Cambridge MA Walking Tour

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Once a quiet New England farming village-turned capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, today's Cambridge, MA is a university town that dazzles visitors as the home of renowned Harvard University – alma mater of many intellectuals, literary geniuses, celebrities, and wealthy and powerful. Many of America’s elite have spent some time at Harvard, and their contributions to Cambridge have...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles

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