Harvard Hall


Originally built in 1677, Harvard Hall should be the oldest building in Harvard Yard. Unfortunately that first structure burned down in January of 1764, destroying 5,000 books. These included all but one of John Harvard’s collection of about 400 which he had willed to the college upon his death in 1638.

Also lost was the only known portrait of the first benefactor. This loss led to one of several lies still spread about another famous monument in the yard. Come along on the tour and we’ll tell you all about it!

When the building was rebuilt in 1766, it sported a fancy lead roof. Not quite sure why. Unfortunately you won’t see that spectacular roof on the tour because in 1775 a moderately well known fellow by the name of George Washington came to town. The industrious Washington put that roof to use for the cause of liberty. Can you guess how?