World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Gasson Hall

View of Boston skyline and Gasson Tower
Gasson Tower

Gasson Hall is a building on the campus of Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Designed by Charles Donagh Maginnis in 1908, the building influenced the development of Collegiate Gothic architecture in North America. Gasson Hall is named after the 13th president of Boston College, Thomas I. Gasson, SJ, considered BC's "second founder."


  • History 1
  • Architectural description 2
  • Renovation 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


In 1907, newly installed Boston College President Thomas I. Gasson, SJ, determined that BC's cramped, urban campus in Boston's campus master plan and set about raising funds for the construction of the "new" university. Two years later, the competition winner was announced and construction began. From a field of entries by some of the most distinguished architects of the day, Charles Donagh Maginnis' proposal for an "Oxford in America" was selected.

Architectural description

Gasson Hall interior rotunda

Gasson Hall is a seminal example of Collegiate Gothic architecture in North America. Publication of its design in 1909—and praise from influential American Gothicist Ralph Adams Cram—helped establish Collegiate Gothic as the prevailing architectural style on American university campuses for much of the 20th century. Gasson Hall is credited for the typology of dominant Gothic towers in subsequent campus designs, including those at Princeton (Cleveland Tower, 1913–1917), Yale (Harkness Tower, 1917–1921), and Duke (Chapel Tower, 1930–1935).

Combining the Gothic style of his medieval precedent with the axes, balance and symmetry of the Beaux-Arts style, he proposed a vast complex of academic buildings set in a cruciform plan. The design suggested an enormous outdoor cathedral, with the long entry drive at the "nave," the main quadrangle at the "apse" and secondary quadrangles at the "transepts." At the "crossing", Maginnis placed the university's main building which he called "Recitation Hall". Using stone quarried on the site, the building was constructed at the highest point on Chestnut Hill, commanding a view of the surrounding landscape and the city to the east. Dominated by a soaring 200-foot bell tower, Recitation Hall was known simply as the "Tower Building" when it finally opened in 1913.

Maginnis' design broke from the traditional Oxbridge models that had inspired it—and that had till then characterized Gothic architecture on American campuses. In its unprecedented scale, Gasson Tower was conceived not as the belfry of a singular building, but as the crowning campanile of Maginnis' new "city upon a hill".


Gasson Hall renovation as of May 2, 2007
As of April 2007, Gasson Hall has been subject to major exterior renovations. The building's stone elements have taken a major beating from mother nature since its opening in 1913. Nearly every stone on the building was analyzed by professionals with tablet PCs and documented. It was concluded that construction crews must replace nearly 99% of the building's decorative cast stones. The renovation will consist of several phases, the first focusing mainly on the building's 200 foot tall bell tower.

Crews will attempt to replicate Gasson's Collegiate Gothic architecture by meticulously removing each of the cast stones and replacing them with exact replicas. Each of the tower's four prominent spires will be removed by a tower crane and shipped off to a masonry company. The original spires will be used to form a mold, which will in turn be used to create new stone spires, which will be shipped back to Boston College and reattached to the building. However, due to the nature of the project, renovation will be limited to the warmer months only presenting a challenge to workers.[1]

Work on the 200-foot bell tower was completed in autumn 2008.

See also


  1. ^ "Bells toll on Gasson Tower as work begins".  

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.