Swartz Hall_HDS

photo by: Chuck Choi

Preservation Magazine, Spring 2022

Harvard Divinity School's Swartz Hall Gets an Update

Swartz Hall at Harvard Divinity School (HDS) got its start as the main building of Andover Theological Seminary, the first graduate theological seminary founded in the United States. When Harvard purchased the 1911 building from the seminary in 1935, the granite structure became the sole example of Collegiate Gothic–style architecture on the university’s campus. In 2021, HDS completed a comprehensive renovation and expansion of the building, which included significant preservation work.

The building’s interfaith Williams Chapel—renamed to honor Preston N. Williams, the first tenured African American member of the HDS faculty—received “white-glove treatment,” according to Kevin Sullivan of Shawmut Design and Construction, the general contractor. Working with the project’s designer, Ann Beha Architects, Shawmut oversaw the restoration of the historic chapel’s floors and woodwork.

The construction team repointed much of Swartz Hall’s exterior granite walls and replaced its roofs with new slate that matches the old. Lyn Hovey Studio created new stained-glass windows using the same design and fabrication techniques as the originals. Wood exterior doors throughout the building were restored, as was the main interior stairway. New mechanicals, HVAC, lighting, and insulation help HDS meet stringent energy-efficiency goals, and a roughly 13,000-square-foot glass-walled addition hews to the scale of the approximately 60,000-square-foot hall. Landscaping designed by STIMSON complements the building, which reopened in September of 2021.

The exterior of Schwartz Hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

photo by: Chuck Choi

Williams Chapel’s ramp was added as part of a larger series of accessibility upgrades to Swartz Hall.

Editor's Note: This story was updated on May 2, 2022.

Meghan Drueding is the executive editor of Preservation magazine. She has a weakness for Midcentury Modernism, walkable cities, and coffee-table books about architecture and design.


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