This is an 1823 engraving by Charles Cutler Torrey (1799–1827) of a wash drawing and oil painting, both done in 1821 by the Massachusetts landscape artist, Alvan Fisher (1792–1863). Torrey, who studied engraving in Philadelphia, established himself in Salem in 1820 and is well known for this engraved view. Fisher was a pioneer of the Hudson River school whose pictures of rural life were so popular that he was able to maintain a studio in Boston. See David McNeeley Stauffer, American Engravers upon Copper and Steel, New York, 1907, 1:274; William Dunlap, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States, ed. Frank W. Bayley and Charles E. Goodspeed, Boston, 1918, 3:32.
The picture shows Harvard College in Charles Francis Adams’ student days. The building on the left is University Hall, erected in 1814–1815 with money appropriated by the Massachusetts legislature. The ground floor contained four halls for commons, one for each class, and was the scene of the commencement dinners for
many years. A new chapel occupied one end of the structure where faculty and students worshiped. Recitations were held in the rest of the building. Massachusetts Hall, the oldest edifice at Harvard, was completed in 1720 to house students, but was done over into classrooms in the 1870’s. The third building, Harvard Hall (barely seen in the engraving), was completed in 1766 to replace old Harvard Hall, which burned down. In Adams’ time this hall contained the Library on the second floor and the philosophical apparatus downstairs. Lectures and recitations were held in most rooms, Harvard Hall being the first college structure without bedrooms or studies. Although the commons were moved to University Hall as mentioned, commencement dinners were sometimes held in this older hall. Renovated in the 1840’s and later, Harvard Hall has been considerably altered. Next is Hollis Hall, dedicated in 1764, a dormitory containing bedroom-and-study quarters. During his sophomore year Adams lived here with his brother John in room No. 15. The next to the last building is Stoughton Hall (almost hidden), erected in 1805, the last residential house planned with the old-fashioned chamber-and-study arrangement. The last structure (on the extreme right) is the popular Holworthy Hall, completed in 1812, the first residential hall containing suites of rooms—two bedrooms and a sitting room or study. All these buildings still stand in the Harvard Yard; Massachusetts, Harvard, and Hollis halls are “models of Georgian architecture.” Craigie Road, the vantage point in the picture, is now Cambridge Street. The viewer would be standing on what is now the Delta of Memorial Hall, looking southward. For fuller descriptions of these historic buildings see Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636–1936
, Cambridge, 1936, and Hamilton V. Bail, Views of Harvard: A Pictorial Record to 1860,
Cambridge, 1949, p. 148–163.