These images inspired the descriptions found in The End of Innocence. The book has no photos, but I thought you would enjoy seeing the Harvard and Lexington I have lived in and know. All photos taken by Allegra Jordan.
Titanic Library: A library borne of the Titanic Tragedy (Chapter 1)
“The Yard had evolved as a collection of buildings, each with its own oddities, interspersed among large elm trees and tracts of grass. The rich red brickwork of Sever Hall stood apart from the austere gray of University Hall. Appleton Chapel’s romanesque curves differed from the gabled turrets of Weld and the sharp peaks of Matthews. Holworthy, Hollis, and Stoughton were as plain as the Pilgrims. Holden Chapel, tucked away as it was, looked like a young girl’s playhouse. The red walls of Harvard and Massachusetts Halls, many agreed, could be called honest but not much more. The massive new library had been named for a young man who went down on the Titanic two years before. There were those who’d have had the architect trade tickets with the young lad. At least the squat form, dour roofline, and grate of Corinthian columns did indeed look like a library.”
Memorial Hall (Chapter 1)
“The Yard had become not a single building demanding the attention of all around it, like the overwrought and triumphal Memorial Hall just outside its boundaries. The Yard was the sum of its parts: its many irregular halls filled with many irregular people. Taken together over the course of nearly three hundred years, most judged this endeavor of the Puritans a resounding success. In fact, none were inclined to think higher of it than those forced to leave it, such as the be-spectacled Wilhelm von Lützow Brandl, a senior and the only son of a Prussian countess, at that hour recalled to Germany.”
The two Harvard crests: a scavenger hunt around Harvard (Chapter 1)
“The new /Harvard/ crest /on the professor’s lectern/ was carved onto the wood and painted in bright gold, different from those now-dulled ones painted on the backs of the black chairs in which they sat. The old crest spoke of reason and revelation: two books turned up, one turned down. The latest version had all three books upturned. Apparently you could know everything and were expected to by the time you left Harvard, although it was said the alumni office insisted that one never really “left Harvard.” It would take some time before the crest found its way into all of the classrooms and halls.”
Sever Hall: An H.H. Richardson masterpiece in brick (Chapter 16)
“Sever was not one of those lesser buildings around it, trimmed in ephemera and dancing for attention. This was a Mesopotamian potentate brooding in shadow, dark and foreboding. Not one speck of white paint offset its blood-red bricks, and precious little sandstone whimsy lightened its mood. More than one alumnus had complained of the hall’s recessed archway, its semi-turrets, and the unusual fenestration. The massive hall, for many, was not what an educational building in Harvard Yard should look like.They, of course, were wrong. As /Harvard english professor/ Copeland told his students time and time again, Sever Hall spoke more of people than of brick. Brickwork leaves and vines, flowers and sprigs, curled along the side of the hall and up its walls, filling inlaid brick flower boxes. The bricks were cut into sixty different variations, from which emanated an irrepressible life.
‘This building needed no ivy. Its life burst from the city’s own clay and from the students within the classrooms and hallways inside. And he—a man Harvard had denied promotion to for more than twenty years—filled it time and time again with his readings. He entertained students, he investigated their quarrels for the college, and he listened to their troubles. And what could be more important now, at a time when boys were running off to war? Or were having war forced upon them. … A few loose raindrops fell from the cut-brick flower boxes, some glancing off his coat as he waded through the throng. Yes, he thought, let the other buildings cry out from painted doorways and columned porticos. Sever Hall knew that students, like so many variations on red brick, were the college’s ever-present life, unique and abundant. They looked the same only if one stood too far back or was too caught up in the flash of columns to notice.”
Merrimack Hill, the fictitious home of the Brooks family, in Lexington, Massachusetts (Chapter 3)
“The maze of paths leading to Merrimack Hill from other fields were now abandoned and private, covered in years of pine straw and flanked by brambles, disappearing in the ever-thickening forest gathering around the Brooks family home. Piles of fieldstone littered the property in odd lines, fossils of old stone fences now unrecognizable to the yeomen farmers who had once worked the land. The great fields of Lexington, once cleared for farming, now sprung with sugar maples and aspen, catalpa, ironwood, and oak. Buckthorn gathered around stone walls, its roots and branches toppling the rock at places, making it difficult to pass.
‘The fields were much older than the house on Merrimack Hill, which had been built well after the last of the Mohicans, the last shot of the Revolution, and the last of the age of gentlemen farming. Helen’s grandfather had built it to be at one with nature and at complete odds with his neighbors who, at that time, had been overcome by the craze of Thoreau’s famous experiment in simple living at Walden Pond. Helen’s grandfather was one of the few who resisted a simple life, maintaining that if one really wanted to understand life, plenty of people had written books on the subject and those books could be read from the bounty of one’s well-tended and elaborately-carved hearth.”
Harvard’s Memorial Church, built 1932, as part chapel, part war memorial