Gasson Hall is a stunning structure on the Boston College campus in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The hall, which was designed by Charles Donagh Maginnis in 1908, is a key factor in the rise Collegiate Gothic architecture in North America. Gasson Hall is named after Thomas I. Gasson, S.J., Boston College’s 13th president and “second founder.”
In 1907, newly installed Boston College President Thomas I. Gasson, S.J. judged that the college’s crowded, urban location in Boston’s South End was insufficient and unsuitable for further development. He reimagined Boston College as a world-renowned university and a beacon of Jesuit education, inspired by John Winthrop’s early vision of Boston as a “city upon a hill.”
Gasson decided to buy the Lawrence farm on Chestnut Hill, six miles west of the city, less than a year after taking office. He then held an international competition for the design of the campus master plan and began fundraising for the “new” university’s development. The competition winner was declared two years later, and construction commenced. Charles Donagh Maginnis’ plan for a “Oxford in America” was chosen from a field of entries from some of the most illustrious architects of the time.
Maginnis and his team got to work on the campus and Gasson Hall which was originally called the “Recitation Hall”. Gasson Hall was built using stone quarried on the site and it was strategically built at the highest point on Chestnut Hill. To get an even more commanding view of the surrounding landscape and Boston, the bell tower was constructed to a height of 200 feet. The hall opened in 1913.
Gasson Hall is a seminal example of Collegiate Gothic architecture in the United States. Maginnis’s design plans of the hall were published in 1909, and famous American Gothicist Ralph Adams Cram praised them. For much of the twentieth century, Gasson Hall helped establish Collegiate Gothic as the dominant architectural style on American university campuses. Gasson Hall is credited with inventing the dominating Gothic tower typology, which was used in following campus designs at Princeton (Cleveland Tower, 1913–1917), Yale (Harkness Tower, 1917–1921), and Duke (Chapel Tower, 1930–1935).
Over the years, Boston College’s campus has grown substantially, but Gasson Hall remains the crowning jewel!
If you’re looking for other great spots to visit nearby – check out these 18 Unique Spots In Boston To Photograph!
- Address: 140 Commonwealth Avenue
- Town: Chestnut Hill
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: Lat 42.33564 Lng -71.17049
- Parking notes: There is a parking lot next to Gasson Hall, but it is often limited to faculty. There is parking along Commonwealth Avenue which is only a short walk from the building. Additionally, visitors can pay to park in the Commonwealth Avenue Garage.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE