Born September 29, 1838, Henry Hobson Richardson was the outstanding American architect of his day, one of a half-dozen of America's most influential architects. He was born at Priestly Plantation in St. James Parish, Louisiana. A southerner who went to Harvard College, Richardson studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1860, but didn't finish, as family backing failed during the U.S. Civil War. He returned to the U.S. in 1865.
Influenced by architects John Ruskin and William Morris, Richardson developed a powerful personal style, improvising upon the Romanesque of southern France. Known as "Richardsonian Romanesque", Richardson's work is outstanding for his boldly articulated, clear and simple but picturesque massing and roofline profiles, his mastery of rustication, his somber polychromy. When you see an 1880s building with massive rusticated, round arches over tight clusters of windows in massive walls, semi-circular arches supported on clusters of squat columns, you are seeing Richardsonian Romanesque.