Norcross Brothers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Norcross Brothers Contractors and Builders was a prominent nineteenth-century American construction company, especially noted for their work, mostly in stone, for the architectural firms of H.H. Richardson and McKim, Mead & White.

The Norcross brothers: James Atkinson (b. 24 Mar. 1831) and Orlando Whitney (b. 26 Oct. 1839) were born in Maine to Jesse Springer Norcross, proprietor of Norcross Mills and Margaret Ann [Whitney][1] and moved to Worcester, Massachusetts in 1868. Their pedigree descends from Philip Norcross and his wife, Sarah [Jackson], the brothers' paternal great - great grandparents, originally of Watertown, MA.[2] Skilled construction carpenters, they opened their own construction company and in 1869 contracted to build the new Worcester high school building designed by a young architect, H.H. Richardson. From that point on the brothers became Richardson's primary contractors; ultimately, they were to build more than thirty of his designs, including three that are considered his best work, Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts, the Marshall Fields & Company building in Chicago, Illinois and the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Following the death of Richardson, the brothers became the contractor for many of McKim, Mead & White's projects. When MM&W opened a new office in New York City, in 1894, the Norcross Brothers had their own space within it. As had been the case with Richardson, much of the value of the Norcross Brothers to MM&W, and other architects derived from Orlando Norcross's engineering skill. Though largely self-taught, he had developed the skills needed to solve the vast engineering problems brought to him by his clients. For example, the size of the dome at the Rhode Island Capitol was expanded very late in the design process, perhaps even after construction had begun, so that it would be larger than the one just completed by Cass Gilbert for the Minnesota Capitol.

Because of their need for stone, a primary building material of the time, was outpacing the supply the brothers eventually acquired their own stone quarries, first in Connecticut (Branford) (now on the National Register of Historic Places) and in Massachusetts, and later in Westchester County, New York and in Georgia. They also established a factory in Worcester where they manufactured architectural building parts.

In all, the company is credited with completing over 650 building projects.

Selected H.H. Richardson projects[edit]

Projects for other architects[edit]


  1. ^ Worcester Society of Antiquity (Mass.) Proceedings of the Worcester Society of Antiquity. Pub. by The Society, 1907, Vol. 21 (1905), p. 36 - 39.
  2. ^ Crane, Ellery Bicknell. Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts, with a History of Worcester Society of Antiquity. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1907, pp. 260 – 262.


  • Baker, Paul R., Stanny: The Gilded Life of Stanford White, The Free Press, New York, 1989
  • Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, H.H. Richardson:Complete Architectural Works, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1984
  • Roth, Leland M., McKim, Mead & White, Architects, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, NY 1983

External links[edit]