Constructed in 1967 during the tenure of Dean George P. Baker and designed by Robert Shaw Sturgis, Cotting House provides administrative offices for the School’s Business & Environment Initiative, Healthcare Initiative, and Marketing & Communications department. The three-story, 16,747-square-foot Georgian Revival-style, brick-and-wood structure was designed to accommodate the expansion of the School’s International Teachers Program (ITP) and other international projects in the late 1960s. Cotting provided administrative and residential space for the ITP, which was established to train international faculty in the case method and to promote a more global view of management education. The ITP subsequently relocated to offices in France, and the building then served as headquarters for the School’s Doctoral Programs from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, when Cotting House was repurposed for its current use.
Boston investment banker and philanthropist Charles E. Cotting (1889 - 1985) generously contributed his wisdom and financial support to HBS for over three decades. A 1911 graduate of Harvard College, Cotting served on the HBS Visiting Committee from 1943 to 1966. In addition to donating the funds to construct Cotting House, he established a permanent charitable trust—one of the largest in the history of the School—that continues to provide substantial support for doctoral students, MBA fellowships, and faculty development each year.
Cotting belonged to the fourth generation of a venerable New England family that figured prominently in the early development of Boston as a city and business center. Through their involvement in a real-estate syndicate in the 19th century, Cotting family members were instrumental in the construction of landmarks such as Post Office Square and India and Central Wharves, as well as infrastructure projects that led to the development of the city’s Back Bay neighborhood.
Cotting began his own career with the investment banking firm of Lee, Higginson & Company. After serving in the Army Air Service during World War I, he returned to the investment firm, where he became a partner. Cotting served as chairman of the board and director from 1955 until 1967, when Lee, Higginson merged with Hayden, Stone & Co.
Over the years, a wide array of New England businesses and charitable organizations benefited from Cotting’s experience and largesse. In addition to his activities at Harvard, he was vice chairman of the board of the Provident Institution for Savings, and director of the Blackstone Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the Maine Central Railroad, and the Portland Terminal Company. He also served as a board member of Massachusetts General Hospital, a trustee and president of The Boston Home, Inc., and a member of the Corporation of the Museum of Science. The Cotting School is Lexington MA, was also named for Charels Cotting and his uncle, Francis Joy Cotting for their years of service and support. Charles served as Trustee and Treasurer fro nearly 60 years, and managed the endowment for 40 years, a period where its value grew ten-fold.
Cotting’s endowment to HBS included items from the family’s collection of museum-quality art and objects, donated for permanent display in Cotting House. The collection includes paintings, pewter hollowware, Currier and Ives prints, antique furniture, and rugs. One of the most arresting details of the building’s exterior is a matched set of limestone tablets set into the facade on either side of the portico. One bears a sculptured representation of the Cotting family coat of arms: the other, a similar acknowledgment of the Winslow family, Mrs. Cotting’s ancestors.
Expressing gratitude for Cotting’s gift, Dean Baker, in 1969, emphasized the building’s role in enhancing the School’s international reach. Noting the post-World War II growth in international trade and increasing numbers of multi-national companies, Baker observed, “Businessmen and educators in all parts of the world are recognizing professionally educated management as a key resource in the full utilization of any economy.” As the expanded home of the ITP, Baker said, “Cotting House will enable us to serve these new global needs with greater effectiveness.”
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