Richardsonian Romanesque

Richardsonian Romanesque is a style of Romanesque Revival architecture named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838–1886), whose masterpiece is Trinity Church, Boston (1872–1877), designated a National Historic Landmark. Richardson first used elements of the style in his Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane in Buffalo, New York, designed in 1870.

Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts - front oblique view
Trinity Church in Boston, an exemplar of Richardsonian Romanesque style.
Richardsonian Romanesque has both French and Spanish Romanesque characteristics, as seen in the First Presbyterian Church in Detroit, by architects George D. Mason and Zachariah Rice in 1891
Architectural details of the American Museum of Natural History

History and development

This very free revival style incorporates 11th and 12th century southern French, Spanish and Italian Romanesque characteristics. It emphasizes clear, strong picturesque massing, round-headed "Romanesque" arches, often springing from clusters of short squat columns, recessed entrances, richly varied rustication, blank stretches of walling contrasting with bands of windows, and cylindrical towers with conical caps embedded in the walling.

Architects working in the style

The style includes work by the generation of architects practicing in the 1880s before the influence of the Beaux-Arts styles. It is epitomised by the American Museum of Natural History's original 77th Street building by J. Cleaveland Cady of Cady, Berg and See in New York City. It was seen in smaller communities in this time period such as in St. Thomas, Ontario's city hall and Menomonie, Wisconsin's Mabel Tainter Memorial Building, 1890.

Some of the practitioners who most faithfully followed Richardson's proportion, massing and detailing had worked in his office. These include:

Other architects who employed Richardson Romanesque elements in their designs include:

The style also influenced the Chicago school of architecture and architects Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. In Finland, Eliel Saarinen was influenced by Richardson.[2]

Overseas, Folke Zettervall was influenced by the Richardson style when he designed several railway stations in Sweden during this period. [3]


Research is underway to try to document the westward movement of the artisans and craftsmen, many of whom were immigrant Italians and Irish, who built in the Richardsonian Romanesque tradition. The style began in the East, in and around Boston, where Richardson built the influential Trinity Church on Copley Square. As the style was losing favor in the East, it was gaining popularity further west. Stone carvers and masons trained in the Richardsonian manner appear to have taken the style west, until it died out in the early years of the 20th century.

As an example, four small bank buildings were built in Richardsonian Romanesque style in Osage County, Oklahoma, during 1904–1911.[4]


For pictures of H. H. Richardson’s own designs and some of the details, see Henry Hobson Richardson.

With the exception of the Richardson Olmsted Complex, none of the following structures were designed by Richardson. They illustrate the strength of his architectural personality on progressive North American architecture from 1885 to 1905.

They are divided into categories denoting the various different uses of the buildings.

Minneapolis City Hall-Hennepin County Courthouse

Minneapolis City Hall, Franklin Bidwell Long and Frederick G. Kees, architects, finished 1906


Cincinnati City Hall, Samuel Hannaford, architect, completed 1893.

Toronto City Hall

Clocktower of Toronto City Hall, E. J. Lennox, architect, 1889–99: arcading and rusticated brownstone

Lee county texas courthouse 2014

The Lee County, Texas Courthouse, 1899: cautious Romanesque features applied to a conservative design

Salt lake city county bldg

Salt Lake City and County Building, Salt Lake City, Utah, Monheim, Bird, and Proudfoot architects, 1894

Brooklyn Post Office 0321071421a

Brooklyn General Post Office, Cadman Plaza. Mifflin E. Bell, 1885–91

Landmark Center

Old Federal Courts Building, St. Paul MN (now Landmark Center), (Willoughby J. Edbrooke, designed 1892, completed 1901).

Milwaukee Federal Courthouse, Post Office, 1882-99

Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, Milwaukee, WI, designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke. Built 1892–99, extended 1929–32, renovated 1989–96.

City Hall Ft W IN 1

Old City Hall in Fort Wayne, Indiana, completed in 1893.

Dallas - Old Red Museum 01

Dallas County Courthouse, now Old Red Museum, designed & constructed by architect and contractor Max A. Orlopp Jr. in 1891.

Mcculloch county courthouse 2010

McCulloch County Courthouse (Texas) in Brady, Texas, built by Martin & Moodie, completed in 1900.

Salem Superior Court

Salem Superior Court, Salem, Massachusetts. Constructed in 1864 as an Italianate design, it was remodeled in the Richardsonian Romanesque style by 1889.[5]

Green County Wisconsin courthouse

Green County Courthouse, Monroe, Wisconsin, 1891.


Jasper County Courthouse, Carthage, Missouri, completed in 1895 by architect and contractor Max A. Orlopp Jr.

Statesville Old U.S. Court House and Post Office

Statesville, North Carolina U.S. Court House and Post Office, designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke and supervised by William Alfred Freret; now serving as Statesville's City Hall.

Science Hall, University of Wisconsin Madison

Science Hall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in Madison, Wisconsin, designed by Milwaukee architect Henry C. Koch and completed in 1887.

Lincoln School RI IL

Lincoln School, Rock Island, Illinois, built 1893 by E.S. Hammatt, landmarked in 1984 and demolished in 2012

Victoria College

Old Vic, the main building of Victoria College, Toronto, built in 1892 by W. G. Storm

Altgeld Hall - UIUC - DSC09097

Altgeld Hall at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign; Nathan Ricker and James McLaren White, architects, 1896-7

Pillsbury Hall

Pillsbury Hall, on the University of MinnesotaMinneapolis campus; LeRoy Buffington, architect, Harvey Ellis, designer, 1887

Rutlo 3772831372 Southwestern

The Hugh Roy and Lillie Cullen Building on the campus of Southwestern University, built in 1898

Italian Renaissance Princeton, NJ

Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall at Princeton University;Princeton, New Jersey; William A. Potter, architect, 1894.

June03 007

Crouse College built on the campus of Syracuse University in 1881

Tolley Administration Building, Syracuse University

Tolley Administration Building at Syracuse, built in 1889

Fogg Memorial, South Berwick, ME

Fogg Memorial Building at Berwick Academy, South Berwick, Maine, built in 1894 by George A. Clough and Hiram Fogg

Fogg Memorial

The Fogg Memorial today


Orton Hall, The Ohio State University, completed 1893.

Durand Art Institute

Durand Art Institute, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois. Henry Ives Cobb architect, completed 1891.

Williams Free Library front

Williams Free Library, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Opened 1891. Architect Walter Holbrook.

UMass Amherst 4

Old Chapel, former library and gathering hall of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts. Architect Stephen C. Earle, completed 1887.


Acton Memorial Library, Acton, Massachusetts, Hartwell and Richardson, architects, completed 1891.

Westminster Castle in Colorado

The Westminster Castle in Westminster, Colorado as it appeared on 29 May 2008

Union Depot, Pueblo, CO

Pueblo Union Depot in Pueblo, Colorado, James A. McGonigle of Leavenworth, Kansas and Sprague and Newall of Chicago, Illinois, architects, 1889–90

Chestnut Hill Water Works high-service pumping station

The High Service Building at Chestnut Hill Water Works, Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts; Arthur H. Vinal, architect, 1887

CRRNJ Terminal, Liberty State Park, Jersey City NJ

Communipaw Terminal, Jersey City, New Jersey, William H. Peddle of Peabody & Stearns, architects, 1889

The Professional Building

The City Bank Building (now The Professional Building) in Wheeling, West Virginia, in the Wheeling Historic District, completed in 1892. Edward Bates Franzheim, architect.

Kirkwood, MO train station

The Kirkwood Railroad Station in Kirkwood, Missouri, constructed by Douglas Donovan in 1893, and serving as an Amtrak station today.

Picture of old Ann Arbor train station.jpeg

Former Ann Arbor, Michigan train station, Spier & Rohns, architects, 1886

Starkweather Chapel

Starkweather Chapel, Ypsilanti, Michigan; George D. Mason of Detroit, Michigan, architect, 1888: Clearly articulated clustered forms in a mock-military exercise in rustication

Shadyside presbyterian

Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh. Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, architects. 1890.


First Baptist Church Beaumont, Texas, now Tyrrell Historical Library. 1903.

United Reformed Church in Somerville, NJ

1893 building in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.

James J. Hill House

James J. Hill House, 240 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota. Peabody & Stearns; Mark Fitzpatrick, architects, completed 1891.


John Uri Lloyd House near the campus of the University of Cincinnati was built for a Cincinnati pharmacist by James W. McLaughlin.

Frank House (Kearney, Nebraska) from NE 1

George W. Frank House, Kearney, NE, designed by Frank, Bailey and Farmer, completed in 1889.

See also



  1. ^ O'Brien, Marta (9 June 2008). "Toronto's Third City Hall". Heritage Toronto. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  2. ^ Johnson, Donald L. and Donald Langmead, Makers of 20th Century Modern Architecture: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook, Greenwood, 1997, p.290
  3. ^ "Kumla järnvägsstation" [Kumla Railway Station]. (in Swedish). Retrieved 27 March 2019. Byggnaden är starkt inspirerad av den amerikanske arkitekten Henry Hobson Richardssons arkitektur.
  4. ^ Claudia Ahmad and George Carney (December 1983). "National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Submission: Richardsonian Romanesque Banks of Osage County TR". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-02-12
  5. ^ "Endangered: Historic Court Buildings". Historic Salem, Inc. Retrieved 2011-12-13.


  • Kelsey, Mavis P. and Donald H. Dyal, The Courthouses of Texas: A Guide, Texas A&M University Press, College Station Texas 1993 ISBN 0-89096-547-1
  • Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Architectural Sculpture in America unpublished manuscript
  • Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Starkweather Memorial Chapel, Highland Cemetery, Ypsilanti, Michigan, Unpublished paper 1983
  • Larson, Paul C., Editor, with Susan Brown, The Spirit of H. H. Richardson on the Midwest Prairies, University Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and Iowa State University Press, Ames 1988
  • Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, H. H. Richardson: Complete Architectural Works, MIT Press, Cambridge MA 1984 ISBN 0-262-15023-9
  • Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, and Andersen, Dennis Alan, Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and the Legacy of H. H. Richardson, University of Washington Press, Seattle WA 2003 ISBN 0-295-98238-1
  • Van Rensselaer, Mariana Griswold, Henry Hobson Richardson and His Works, Dover Publications, Inc. NY 1959 (Reprint of 1888 edition) ISBN 0-486-22320-5

External links

Alexander Hall (Princeton University)

Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall is a historic 900-seat Richardsonian Romanesque performance hall at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. It is home to both the Princeton University Orchestra and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra.

Cable House

The Cable House is a Richardsonian Romanesque-style house near Michigan Avenue at 25 E. Erie St. in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The house was built in 1886 by Cobb and Frost for socialite Ransom R. Cable. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on October 2, 1991.In 1902, the house was purchased by Robert Hall McCormick for his son, Robert Hall McCormick III. This was where Marconi stayed in Chicago in 1917. The house is located in a part of the Near North Side neighborhood west of Michigan Avenue that was once dubbed "McCormicksville," due to the concentration of McCormick family members living there within a few blocks of each other.

The Cable House is currently occupied by the offices of Driehaus Capital Management, which is operated by Chicago financier, preservationist and philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus. His Richard H. Driehaus Museum is located across the intersection in the historic Edward J. Burling-designed Samuel M. Nickerson House at 40 E. Erie St.

Center School (Omaha)

The Center School, now known as the Lincoln School Apartments, is located at 1730 South 11th Street in South Omaha, Nebraska, United States. Built in 1893, it was declared an Omaha Landmark June 18, 1985 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 23, 1985.The building is one of only a very few major examples of the Richardsonian Romanesque style remaining in Omaha. Center School is one of 35 Omaha schools designed by architect John Latenser, Sr. The building was rehabilitated into apartments in 1987.

Crouse College

Crouse College, also known as Crouse Memorial College and historically as John Crouse Memorial College for Women, is a building on the Syracuse University campus. It was funded by John R. Crouse, an "enormously wealthy Syracuse banker". The architect, Archimedes Russell, was charged with coming up with a spectacular building, and used the Romanesque revival—Richardsonian Romanesque style.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Dallas County Courthouse (Texas)

The Dallas County Courthouse, built in 1892 of red sandstone with rusticated marble accents, is a historic governmental building located at 100 South Houston Street in Dallas, Texas. Also known as the Old Red Courthouse, it became the Old Red Museum, a local history museum, in 2007. It was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture by architect Max A. Orlopp, Jr. of the Little Rock, Arkansas based firm Orlopp & Kusener. In 1966 it was replaced by a newer courthouse building nearby. On December 12, 1976, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2005–2007 the building was renovated.

Fillmore County Courthouse

The Fillmore County Courthouse is a historic building in Geneva, Nebraska, and the courthouse for Fillmore County. It was built in 1892 by L. F. Pardue for a cost of $46,176.55, and designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style by architect George E. McDonald. It was partly modelled after the Gage County Courthouse. Clocks on each side of the tower, designed by W. P. McCall, were added in 1909. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since December 12, 1978.McDonald is also credited with designing the Elk County Courthouse (Howard, Kansas), Bates County Courthouse in Butler, Missouri, and Johnson County Courthouse (Courthouse Square, Warrensburg, Missouri).

First Christian Church (Columbia, Missouri)

The First Christian Church is a historic Disciples of Christ church located at 101 North Tenth Street in Columbia, Missouri. It was designed by T.N. Bell of Chicago, Illinois and built in 1893. It has a Richardsonian Romanesque style Sanctuary that includes a square bell tower, horizontal massing with contrasting high gables, round arches, heavy and highly textured stone work, and voussoir arches. The Education Building was designed by Eugene Groves and added in 1929. This is the second church building to stand at this site. The building is still a functioning church today.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

George W. Loomer House

The George W. Loomer House is a private residence located at 71 West Hancock Street in Midtown Detroit, Michigan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

Greene County Courthouse (Ohio)

The Greene County Courthouse is located at 45 North Detroit Street in Xenia, Ohio. The building was designed by Samuel Hannaford & Sons and was completed in 1902.

Immaculate Conception St. Mary's Church

The Church of the Immaculate Conception, commonly known as Immaculate Conception St. Mary's Church, or simply St. Mary's Church, is a Catholic parish and church located in Yonkers, New York. It is the oldest Catholic parish in Yonkers.

Johnson County Courthouse (Iowa)

The Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City, Iowa, the county seat of Johnson County, was completed in 1901; it was the second courthouse to stand at this location. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Music Building (University of Pittsburgh)

The Music Building is an academic building of the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, and a contributing property to the Schenley Farms National Historic District. A Longfellow, Alden & Harlow-designed mansion that was originally the home of the pastor of a neighboring church and former university chancellor, it also served as the home to a local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, as chemical laboratories, and as the first home of educational television station WQED and that station's original production site for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Today it is home to the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Music and the school's Theodore M. Finney Music Library.

New Logus Block

The New Logus Block is a building complex in southeast Portland, Oregon, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Old Fremont Post Office

The Old Fremont Post Office is a historic building in Fremont, Nebraska. It was built in 1893-1895, and designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style by W.J. Edbrooke William T. White was hired as the builder, and Charles W. Guindele as the interior designer. On October 3, 1893, former Republican Congressman George Washington Emery Dorsey dedicated the building, even though it was still under construction. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since February 29, 1996.

Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church (Detroit, Michigan)

The Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church is located at 5930 Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. It was originally built as St. Joseph's Episcopal Church - from 1893 to 1896 - and is a historic Romanesque Revival church complex. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 3, 1982.

Paulding County Courthouse (Ohio)

The Paulding County Courthouse is a historic governmental building in downtown Paulding, Ohio, United States. A Richardsonian Romanesque building erected in 1886, it is the third courthouse to serve the residents of Paulding County.When Paulding County was established in 1820, the small community of Charloe was named the county seat. This arrangement proved to be short-lived: the older community of Paulding grew significantly while Charloe stagnated, and the county seat was eventually moved to the larger village. Once Paulding had been named the county seat, the county's second courthouse was erected on the village's central square in 1837. After approximately fifty years of service, this frame structure was demolished, and the present structure was built on the same location in 1886.Designed by the E.O. Fallis Company and built by workers under the direction of general contractor Rudolph Ehrhart, the courthouse is a brick structure with a stone foundation and a roof of asphalt. Two-and-one-half stories tall with a central tower, the courthouse features nearly identical entrances on each of its four sides. Measuring 60 feet (18 m) square, and 163 feet (50 m) tall at the tip of its domed tower, the courthouse was patterned after the Lenawee County Courthouse in Michigan, which was also designed by the Fallis architects.In 1974, the Paulding County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, due to its well-preserved architecture that was deemed significant statewide. It is one of four buildings in Paulding County on the Register, along with a rural round barn, a former train station in the village of Antwerp, and the Carnegie library in Paulding.

Samuel Cupples House

Samuel Cupples House is a historic mansion in St. Louis, Missouri, constructed from 1888 to 1890 by Samuel Cupples. It is now a museum on the campus of Saint Louis University. The house is designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

St. Luke's United Methodist Church (Dubuque, Iowa)

St. Luke's United Methodist Church, also known as St. Luke's Methodist and as St. Luke's United Methodist, is an historic Richardsonian Romanesque-style church located at 1199 Main Street in Dubuque, Iowa. It was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, and as a contributing property in the Upper Main Street Historic District in 2005. It is part of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The church has more Tiffany windows than any other church in the state.According to its NRHP nomination, the building is significant for its history in religion in Dubuque, for its Richardsonian Romanesque (unique in Dubuque), and for its Tiffany glass.

Wapello County Courthouse

The Wapello County Courthouse in Ottumwa, Iowa, United States, was built in 1894. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 as a part of the County Courthouses in Iowa Thematic Resource. The courthouse is the fourth building the county has used for court functions and county administration. It is part of the Central Park area, which includes: Ottumwa Public Library, Ottumwa City Hall, and St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church.

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