1. The buildings on Harvard’s campus that feature “brutalist” architecture, such as Canaday Hall, were not actually designed to thwart student rioting as rumor suggests. On the contrary, brutalist buildings were meant to oppose repression and control, therefore promoting high culture.
2. There was once a beautiful, elaborate gate with a clock tower in the southeast corner of Harvard Yard called the Dudley Gate. However, this gate was torn down in the construction of Lamont Library.
3. Harvard Stadium, built in 1903, was the first concrete football stadium in the country.
4. Adams House was quite unpopular architecturally when it was first built. Apparently its Victorian era rooms were too dark and tooo “Germanic” for students’ tastes.
5. In Holden Chapel’s 269 years of existance in Harvard Yard, the space has served as a clubhouse, dissection theater, chapel, rehearsal hall, morgue, lecture hall, museum, medical school, gallery, military barrack, storeroom, laboratory, fire engine house, and even the seat of the Province House of Representatives. All of those things in a tiny little rectangle of space.
6. Word on the street is that the Science Center was built to look like a Polaroid camera, since it was funded by the Polaroid’s inventor Edwin Land.
7. Harvard Hall has actually been built three times. The first version of Harvard Hall was deemed uninhabitable due to rotting in 1686, then the reconstructed second version of the building was destroyed by a fire in 1764.
8. The architecture firm that designed Mather House—yes, the box that Dunster came in—also designed Sever Hall, one of the most picturesque buildings in the Yard.
9. Before Widener Library was built in 1913, another library called Gore Hall stood in its place. Despite Gore Hall’s demolition, it is still featured on the city seal of Cambridge. 10. Each of the four Currier House towers is named after a notable Radcliffe alumna.
11. Many of Harvard’s Neo-Georgian houses actually contain secret rooms, passageways, and staircases. They were probably used to produce and hide moonshine liquor during Prohibition.
12. Johnston Gate, which was designed by architect Charles McKim, features the initials “AAM” on the backside of the gate’s upper portion. The initials in reverse are those of Marian Alice Appleton, the wife of George von Lengerke Meyer, who was the sister of McKim’s late wife Julia. It is said that she donated money to help complete the gate when McKim ran out of funds, and thus McKim hid her initials on the gate.
13. Grays Hall stands on the spot where Harvard’s very first building, Old College, once stood.
14. Julian F. Abele, one of the first major African American architects, designed Widener Library.
15. Contrary to popular belief, Widener is not the only Harvard building named after a Titanic victim. Straus Hall was funded by three brothers to memorialize their parents, who also perished in the tragedy.