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When it was completed in 1889, Johnston Gate stood alone. The other gates and even the brick and iron fence that now encloses the Yard were still in the future. And while nothing quite as grand as its delicate ironwork and massive brick and sandstone piers had ever graced the spot before, the location of the gate has served as the Yard's main entrance since the end of the 17th century.

The gate is named for Samuel Johnston, Class of 1855, who left Harvard $10,000 for its construction. A resident of Chicago, Johnston is described in his 1886 obituary as a bachelor and a "well-known capitalist," and by a fellow member of the Chicago Club as "a short, ruddy faced bon-vivant." A book of reminiscences by one of Johnston's neighbors describes him drinking a toast on the front steps of his house as the Chicago fire blazed nearby.

Designed by the Boston architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, Johnston Gate was the first example at Harvard of Colonial Revival, a style that, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries became almost standard for Harvard buildings. Built of salvaged bricks chosen for their varied texture and color, the structure also helped to popularize what has come to be known in the building trade as "Harvard water-struck brick," used on most Harvard buildings since that time.

The gate bears two plaques inscribed with the earliest records of Harvard's founding, an inscription from "New England's First Fruits" (1643) and the records of the General Court of Massachusetts Bay establishing the College.

Dan
Lives in: Cambridge, Mass. Does: comics. Used to live in: Topanga Canyon, California But grew up in: Cambridge, mostly Used to do (maybe still?): Screenwriter, journalist, teaches some too