Preload Preload

A Legacy of Design Innovation: Shepley Bulfinch at 150 + Beyond

graphic celebrating Shepley Bulfinch 150th anniversary

Reflecting on 150 years of Shepley Bulfinch, our architectural legacy is shaped by buildings that are of their time but have lasted beyond. Each one is unique and is always tailored to the needs of the peolple who inhabit them.

Looking back, our firm has transformed many times over its history; most recently we have been a women-led business for 18 years. Looking forward, we know we must continue to evolve, beyond representing women, working towards a firm that represents everyone, in the buildings we design, and in the teams we build. It makes us better, it makes our conversations better, and it makes the places we design better.  

In my role as caretaker of the people and the history of a firm that was established in 1874, I want to  guide and empower the next generation to take Shepley Bulfinch into the next 150 year, together  with our collaborators and our client communities who help us shape the environments in which we learn, heal, and live.  

Today we are at an inflection point. We are about to experience significant change, driven by global challenges and the advent of AI. What will remain as our guiding principle is that good design is about people: those who do it, those who experience it, and those who will someday be part of it. 

Angela Watson, FAIA

President and CEO, Shepley Bulfinch

Exhibit – A Legacy of Design Innovation: Shepley Bulfinch at 150 and Beyond

McCormick Gallery at
Boston Architectural College

Adventure through history

Complete the Shepley Bulfinch archi-hunt on the Adventure Lab app.

Oral histories

Explore Shepley Bulfinch through conversations with firm leaders including Angela Watson, Luke Voiland, Joe Herzog, and others.

Talk with the archivist

Join Shepley Bulfinch’s Archivist, Rob Roche, in the rich history of the firm’s culture, personalities, and projects.

1874 – 1913

After winning the commission to design the Episcopal Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square, Henry Hobson Richardson established his architecture practice in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1874. From his foundation of the eponymous Romanesque style to the architects he helped shape through his practice, the legacy of Shepley Bulfinch ripples around the world. Following H.H. Richardson’s death in 1886, younger partners were ready to step up and lead. George Foster Shepley (26), Charles Allerton Coolidge (28), and Charles Hercules Rutan (35) were named as successors in Richardson’s bedside will. The successor firm of Shepley Rutan and Coolidge completed some of the country’s most renowned projects of its time between 1886 and 1915.   


1914- 1923

Shepley and Rutan both passed away unexpectedly in the early 20th century, leaving Coolidge as the sole survivor. George C. Shattuck was brought in to fill the gap in leadership. From 1915 to 1924, the firm – now called Coolidge and Shattuck – sharpened its focus on medical schools and facilities through projects such as the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (NY), Peking Union Medical Center (China), Massachusetts General in Boston, and the Boston Lying-In Hospital.

1924- 1951

In 1924, Henry Richardson Shepley joined the firm. According to firm lore, when Henry Shepley asked Charles Coolidge to make him a partner, Coolidge replied that if he promoted Shepley, he would have to promote other men as well. And so, Francis V. Bulfinch and Lewis B. Abbott were added to the partnership and marked a name change to Coolidge Shepley Bulfinch and Abbott (CSBA). In this period the firm worked on a broader diversity of groundbreaking projects including BB Chemical, the original Logan International Airport, and 20 projects for the Rockefeller Institute. CSBA also introduced the Neo-Georgian style used throughout the Harvard University campus as the institution’s primary architect for many decades.

In 1945, Joseph Priestly Richardson, grandson of the firm’s founder, joined his cousin Henry Shepley at CSBA. He had studied architecture at Harvard, established his own small architecture firm, and served as an officer in WWII, winning the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal before returning to professional practice.  

1952 – 1972

In 1952, the firm re-named itself Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott (SBRA), a new identity that acknowledged both Shepley’s primacy and the extended family connections at the heart of the partnership. In 1972, the firm dissolved the partnership and registered as a corporation: Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, Inc.

The firm continued its work in healthcare and higher education with a six-year project for Rhode Island Hospital’s Main Building – based off of a CBSA master plan from the 1940s – and the eighth Harvard House: Quincy House. This was a significant departure from the neo-Georgian style of the Harkness Houses of the 1930s. It connected to the fabric of the existing campus with Georgian dimensions for the courtyard; windows of a scale and proportion that echoes the older structures; and folded roof details that blend with Mather Hall and Adams House. 


1973 – 1999

When George Mathey became president in 1978, it signaled the end of the family era. This continued with Presidents W. Mason Smith III in 1994 and Oliver Egleston in 2011. As the firm entered its second century, it grew its expertise in healthcare, education, and science including projects for Dartmouth College, Smith College, and Vanderbuilt University.

It was also recognized for design excellence with an AIA Honor Award in 1972, and the AIA’s Architectural Firm Award in 1973. In 1974, the firm celebrated it’s centennial, followed with a 125- year- anniversary in 1999.


2000 – 2024 and beyond

At the turn of the 21st century, the firm reflected a changing society and opened the door to new design talent and leadership who would take the firm to new places. In 2004, Carole Wedge was named its first female president, succeeded by its second female president, Angela Watson, in 2021. Today, Shelpey Bulfinch operated as a female-led company, leading by example and advocating for gender equity throughout the design industry. A new studio in Phoenix in 2009, followed by studios in Houston; Hartford, Connecticut; and Durham, North Carolina expanded the firm’s geographical influence.

The COVID-19 global pandemic reaffirmed our commitment to the best talent with an approach to a flexible and hybrid working environment that provides opportunities at Shepley Bulfinch for anyone, regardless of where they live.

How does this evolution affect the built environment?

In the news

For press inquiries, please reach out to

“Shepley Bulfinch celebrates 150th anniversary with BAC exhibit”

The Architects Newspaper

“Shepley Bulfinch celebrates 150 years of practice with a new exhibition at the Boston Architectural College”
The Architects Newspaper

“Shepley Bulfinch Celebrates Its 150th Anniversary with Boston Exhibition”


“Shepley Bulfinch Closing Reception and Panel Discussion”

Join us for the celebration, and follow along