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Ware, William R. (William Robert), 1832-1915



  • Existence: 1832 - 1915

Biographical Note

William Robert Ware, 1832-1915, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His forefathers had a strong religious bent, as evidenced by his father, Henry Ware, Jr. (1794-1843), a noted Unitarian divine and professor at the Divinity School of Harvard University, and his grandfather, Henry Ware (1764 1845), who was a Unitarian clergyman. Ware's religious feelings are more apparent in his personal writing than in his professional work.

Ware is best known as an educator and as the founder of the schools of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Columbia University. He was educated first at Phillips Exeter Academy, and then at Harvard College, receiving a bachelor of arts degree in 1852. He worked as a private tutor in New York until 1854, then returned to Cambridge, where in 1856, after two years in Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School, he received a bachelor of science degree. After graduation, he began his architectural career, studying first with James E. and Edward C. Cabot in Boston and then spending eight months as a student in the atelier of Richard M. Hunt in New York City where his fellow students included Charles Gambrill, George Browne Post, and Ware's future partner Henry Van Brunt. In 1860 Ware went into practice with E.S. Philbrick, an engineer. Several years later he formed a partnership with Henry Van Brunt which lasted until Ware left Boston for New York in 1881.

The partners established an atelier in their office, and Ware strove to provide the students with a good background in both practical method and theory. In 1865, he was appointed as head of the proposed school of architecture in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the first American school of architecture. Ware traveled to Europe to study architectural education and to develop a program of study for MIT. For fourteen years he devoted himself to directing the fledgling program. Conflicts with the administration over the Milton Scholarship funds and an unpaid bill for architectural services rendered were the basis of Ware's growing dissatisfaction with MIT.

In 1881 Ware left MIT and moved to New York, where he established the department of architecture in the School of Mines at Columbia University (then Columbia College). He contributed to the development of an architectural program. He was aided by his previous experience, the establishment of other American schools of architecture in the intervening years, and the fact that Columbia as a college was already well established when the decision was made to create a department of architecture.

In addition to his role as an educator, he contributed to the establishment of the high standards of competition maintained by the American Institute of Architects, and wrote many papers and textbooks in the field. Ware is not as well known for his achievements as an architect, though he and Van Brunt designed and erected a number of buildings, especially in the Boston and Cambridge areas.


Languages Used

  • Language: English. Script: Latin

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture curricula

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0475
Scope and Contents of the Collection A notable item in this collection is a document of 1866, Outline of a Course of Architectural Instruction, a pamphlet by William R. Ware, the first professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) It discusses early plans for an architecture curriculum in the beginning years of MIT. The curricula collection was assembled from a variety of sources in the MIT Libraries. More complete information about classes in all years...
Dates: 1866 - 1942

Reports to the President, 1871 - 1916

 File — Multiple Containers
Identifier: cuid26446
Scope and Contents

4 sets of Reports to the President in a bound volume by the following authors covering these respective time periods, William R. Ware: 1871-1876, T. M. Clark: 1886-1887, F. W. Chandler: 1888-1911, W. H. Lawrence: 1912-1916

Dates: 1871 - 1916

William R. Ware papers

Identifier: MC-0014
Abstract William Robert Ware is best known as an educator and the founder of the schools of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Columbia University. Also a practicing architect, he and his partner, Henry Van Brunt, designed and built a number of buildings in the Boston and Cambridge areas, including First Church (Unitarian), Boston; First Congregational Church, Boston; Episcopal Seminary, Harvard University; and Memorial Hall, Harvard University. This collection...
Dates: 1826 - 1914