Massachusetts Hall, also known as Mass Hall, was built sometime between 1718-1720. The official date is unknown, but two Harvard presidents, President John Leverett and his successor, President Benjamin Wadsworth, designed it. Located at one of the many entrances to Harvard Yard, Mass Hall is the oldest building at Harvard, and the second oldest academic building in the country! (William and Mary has the oldest)
Do not worry, it is a sound structure. Currently, the building is divided between important university administrator offices, like the President of Harvard, Provost, Treasurer, and Vice Presidents, and dorms. Yes, dorms. The top two floors of Mass Hall currently house a lucky few students of the freshman class. Every year, the residents get the chance to have a dinner with the president of Harvard. Tacos are known to be the main dish.
Originally built solely as dorm building, a few dorm rooms were replaced by recitation rooms in the 1800s. A few years later, the dorms were removed entirely. During the Revolutionary War, 640 soldiers were housed in poor Mass Hall. That was a lot of stress for the building, originally designed for 64 freshmen. When the soldiers left, they took everything with them. Not just their guns and blankets, but woodwork and hardware like windowpanes and brass knobs!
At the turn of the 20th century, as in the mid-1700’s, the building was used as a makeshift observatory. Sadly, a fire broke out in 1924, putting an end to the lab, but reinstating it as a residence. In 1939, the lower floors were converted into office space, and in the state we currently find it. If you’d like to meet Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s first female president (and only the 5th woman to run an Ivy League School), you can say hello to her here, as this is where her office is.
Many famous residents have lived in Mass Hall, such as John Adams, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, and James Otis. Along with those real people, the ghost of Holbrook Smith is said to haunts its halls. Smith is a supposed member of the class of 1914, although no records exist of his matriculation. To this day, only one student has claimed they saw the scary ghost in person. Or at least only one has come forward.
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