Completed in 1928, the Boston College Library is believed to have been designed after the Merton Tower in Oxford, England, and I definitely see the resemblance. The buildings was the third constructed on the Boston College Chestnut Hill Campus, all three by Charles Maginnis, and features some hidden architectural gems from little carvings of authors and academics on the exterior to the jaw-dropping reading room.
After the completion of Gasson Hall at Boston College, the Jesuit faculty commuted from the old college in Boston, to Chestnut Hill by automobile and streetcar. The new college sought to make their second building on the new campus, a faculty residence. St. Mary’s hall incorporated apartment units and even a chapel, which was used by a local parish. The building was named after St. Mary’s church in Boston. Like Gasson Hall, this gorgeous building was designed by Charles Maginnis, with similarities to the earlier building.
The Boston College campus at Chestnut Hill represents the best of the Collegiate Gothic style in the Boston area.
Boston College was founded by the Society of Jesus in 1863, and is one of twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Originally located on Harrison Avenue in the South End of Boston, where it shared quarters with the Boston College High School, the College outgrew its urban setting toward the end of its first fifty years. A new location was selected in Chestnut Hill, then almost rural, and four parcels of land were acquired in 1907. A design competition for the development of the campus was won by the firm of Maginnis and Walsh, and ground was broken on June 19, 1909, for the construction of Gasson Hall.
Originally called the Recitation Building, then the Tower Building, Gasson Hall was finally named in honor of Father Thomas I. Gasson, founder of the Chestnut Hill campus. The building was designed by Charles D. Maginnis and built from stone quarried on the present campus. The style of the building and much of the campus can be classified as Collegiate Gothic. Gasson Hall was publicized by Ralph Adams Cram, who helped establish Collegiate Gothic as the prevailing architectural style on American university campuses for much of the 20th century.
At its interior, the Rotunda at the center of the building is a special treat to behold. A blending of different mediums of art including: architecture, sculpture, stained glass, and painted murals, the space is truly awe-inspiring. The dominant feature inside the rotunda is the large marble statue of St. Michael triumphing over Satan. The art piece was commissioned by Gardner Brewer, a Boston merchant for his great hall in his Beacon Hill house. Brewer hired Scipione Tadolini, a renowned sculptor in Rome, and he (along with his assistants) turned a massive block of the finest Carrara marble into the epic battle between good and evil. The piece was eventually purchased by Boston College when they envisioned it to be placed in their Rotunda.