Completed in 1927, Morgan Hall was one of the original buildings in the McKim, Mead & White campus plan. When it opened, the brick and cast stone facility housed offices for the Dean, faculty, research staff, and administrative personnel, as well as accounting laboratories, research rooms, and a laboratory of industrial physiology. Special care was taken to preserve Morgan’s graceful, Georgian Revival-style architecture during an extensive reconstruction from 1990 to 1992. The complicated undertaking modernized and significantly expanded the building’s capacity and created a physical environment that fosters intellectual collaboration among faculty from different disciplines. As redesigned by architect Moshe Safdie during the tenure of Dean John H. McArthur, Morgan now comprises 164 L-shaped faculty offices with work areas for research assistants and support staff. The main facade and two side walls of the building were restored, and an additional floor—shown in the original plans but never realized—was added. A central atrium with light wells runs lengthwise through the 117,707-square-foot building with a unique focal point: a fourth-century Roman mosaic of the Greek sea goddess Tethys set into the floor inside the front entrance.
When financier and philanthropist George F. Baker (1840-1931) donated the funds to build the original Harvard Business School campus in 1924, Dean Wallace B. Donham suggested that the main administration building should be named as Baker saw fit. Baker chose to honor his close friend John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), a philanthropist, art collector, and iconic figure in US business.
Morgan began his career in 1857, working in international finance in a firm headed by his father. In 1871, with Anthony Drexel, he cofounded Drexel, Morgan & Company, a merchant bank that served as an agent for European investments in the United States. Two years later, Morgan was able to underwrite federal bonds to help finance Civil War debt. The firm was reorganized after Drexel’s death and renamed J.P. Morgan & Company in 1895.
By 1900, Morgan’s firm was one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world. His skill at acquiring and restoring troubled businesses to profitability became widely known, and investors were eager to support his ventures. J.P. Morgan & Company organized and financed some of the largest corporate mergers of the early 20th century, including the consolidations that created General Electric and the United States Steel Corporation, the world’s first billion-dollar company. At various times Morgan controlled 70 percent of the country’s steel industry, one-fifth of all corporations trading on the New York Stock Exchange, and the three largest US insurance companies.
Morgan was instrumental in supplying the US Treasury with an infusion of gold during the Panic of 1893 in exchange for a 30-year bond issue, and in 1907, he helped resolve a Wall Street crisis that nearly crippled the US economy.
A noted philanthropist and collector and patron of the arts, Morgan was a major force in the establishment of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and served as its president from 1904 to 1913. At the time of his death, Morgan’s art collection was valued at $50 million.
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Harvard Business School
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