Loeb House

17 Quincy Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Built 1912, by A. Lawrence Lowell (1856-1943) as a gift for Harvard University. Previously known as the "President's House," since 1971 the official home of the Presidents of Harvard is Elmwood. Today, the elegant setting of Loeb's first floor, its ballroom and surrounding gardens, are available to rent for special occasions such as weddings, reunions and corporate events. The remainder of the house is used for administrative office space. In 1995, it was named in honor of John Langeloth Loeb Sr. and his wife Frances Lehman Loeb who donated $70.5 million to the university....

This house is best associated with...

Abbott Lawrence Lowell

A. Lawrence Lowell, 22nd President of Harvard University


Anna Parker Lowell

Mrs Anna (Lowell) Lowell


Lowell was a veritable Brahmin and among the sixth generation of his family to graduate from Harvard. Early on during his tenure as the 22nd President of Harvard University, he commissioned his cousin, the architect Guy Lowell (1870-1927), to design a new home for Harvard's presidents on the site of the previous structure that had been home to the three preceding presidents at 17 Quincy Street, within the historic walls of Harvard Yard.

On its completion, Lowell presented his $155,000 gift to the university and was the first to preside there with his wife (and distant cousin), Anna Parker Lowell (1856-1930). In 1933, James Bryant Conant (1893-1978) and his wife Grace Thayer Richards (1898-1985) succeeded the Lowells and moved into the house with their two sons.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, the Conants gave the house over to the U.S. Navy for its V-12 school training program. During this time the house was treated much the same way as a ship - there was a 24-hour watch and sailors were required to scrub the oak floors and polish the gold mirrors. Following the war, the president and his wife returned to the house and remained there until Conant retired in 1953.

The Conants were succeeded by Nathan Marsh Pusey (1907-2001) and his wife Anne Woodward (1914-2004). They were the last presidential couple to use the house as their official residence: In 1971, Derek Curtis Bok, the newly appointed 25th President, felt the house held serious security risks for his family in consequence of the student protests concerning the Vietnam War. At the invitation of John Thomas Dunlop (1914-2003), Bok took up residence at Elmwood, that has since replaced Loeb House as President's House.

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 09/11/2018 and last updated on 16/12/2020.


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