Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952) architectural collection

Collection Type

  • Architecture


1903-1978, undated, predominant 1903-1936

Location Note

Manuscripts in HGO-02-105-A-E-306; Drawings in HGO-01-001-H-B-16, HGO-01-001-H-B-17, HGO-01-001-H-B-18, HGO-01-001-H-B-19.



Browse Collection


The Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952) architectural collection (AR010), reflects the professional life and work of architect Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952) during the early twentieth century. The collection is primarily comprised of Hanson's professional correspondence and work commissions. The collection is arranged in three series.

Between 1983 and 1985, Historic New England acquired the office records and architectural drawings of architect Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952) as a donation from his family: Phyllis (Hanson) Ray, daughter; Linda (Ray) Brayton; granddaughter; and Jacqueline (Ray) Newton, granddaughter. The papers formed the bases of the collection: Halfdan M. Hanson architectural collection (now AR010). Phyllis Ray compiled the biographical sketch for the Hanson papers and Lorna Condon did the original processing. The Hanson papers were arranged in four series: Series I. Biographical Information; Series II. Correspondence not Related Solely to a Specific Commission; Series III. Miscellaneous; and Series IV. Commissions. When fully processed, the collection comprised seven file boxes (approx. 2.92 linear feet).

Update: 2013-2014
In 2013-2014, through a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant (Award Number: NAR13-RH-50051-13: "Family Manuscript Collections: Expanding Online Access to New England Heritage Project"), twenty-six Historic New England manuscript collections of family papers were re-evaluated and processed/reprocessed to meet current archival standards and "best practices;" corresponding finding aids were created/updated to be DACS-compliant and converted into electronic Microsoft Word document form; and the finding aids were made accessible/searchable online through the use of the Minisis M2A archival database of the Minisis Collections Management System. The Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952) architectural collection (AR010) was part of the grant project.

Prior to the 2013-2014 collection re-processing/updating, the Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952) architectural collection (now AR010) was found to be housed in acid-free folders and file boxes and the collection utilized a single continuous numbering system (i.e., folders 1-128). During re-processing/ updating, the original arrangement scheme of the collection was maintained with the exception of Series III, Miscellaneous, being incorporated into Series I, Biographical Information. Series I was renamed: Biographical, financial, and other papers. Also, the contents of the single folder that originally comprised the whole of Series I was broken out into additional folders according to record type. Series II and Series III remained untouched and the original folders and folder titles were maintained. The entire collection was renumbered according folder/box location and Scope and Content notes were updated, as applicable. Preservation issues were identified and basic preservation methods were applied, as applicable; most of the plastic paperclips were removed and related pages were noted with corresponding information in brackets ([x-1/3], [x-2/3], [x-3/3]; fragile and vulnerable materials were noted and enclosures were made for most of the materials (or materials were interleafed within file boxes), as applicable; and oversize materials were interleafed within file boxes, as applicable. The collection was rehoused (in acid-free legal-size file boxes), numbered, labeled, barcoded, and stored accordingly; the biographical/ historical sketch and genealogy were updated, accordingly; and related collections held by Historic New England and other repositories were researched and noted. A DACS-compliant, electronic 2010-2013 Microsoft Word document finding aid was created (with corresponding paper finding aid) and entered into the collection record in the MINISIS M2A online database.
NOTE: Processing/updating the collection and making the finding aid accessible online were made possible through grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (Award Number: NAR13-RH-50051-13), the Bedford Family Foundation, and an anonymous donor.


Descriptive Terms

apartment houses
architectural drawings (visual works)
biography files
churches (buildings)
clippings (information artifacts)
commercial buildings
commercial correspondence
commissions (permissions)
financial records
hotels (public accommodations)
interior designers
lists (document genres)
motion picture theaters
office buildings
receipts (financial records)
religious buildings
site plans
summer houses (seasonal dwellings)
synagogues (buildings)
architectural records

Physical Description

Architectural records: 1.67 linear ft. (4 file boxes)

Finding Aid Info

An electric finding aid is available through Historic new England's Collections Access Portal. A paper finding aid is available in the Library and Archives.

Custodial History

1983-1985: Acquisition of Halfdan M. Hanson's (1884-1952) office records and architectural drawings from the Hanson family of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Collection Code


Collection Name

Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952) architectural collection

Date of Acquisition


Reference Code



Biographical material; clippings; commissions; contracts; correspondence; drawings and site plans; invoices and receipts; lists; notes; photographs; and printed material; reflecting the professional life of architect Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952) of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Acquisition Type


Credit Line

Donation of Hanson family, 1983-1985


Beverly Hills (Los Angeles county, California)
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Drifton (Luzerne county, Pennsylvania)
East Gloucester (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Eastern Point (Essex county, Massachusetts) [point]
Fort Washington State Park (Montgomery county, Pennsylvania) [state park]
Gloucester (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Hamilton (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Ipswich (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Magnolia Point (Essex county, Massachusetts) [cape]
Manchester (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Newton (Middlesex county, Massachusetts)
Rockport (Essex county, Massachusetts)
Scranton (Lackawanna county, Pennsylvania)
Washington (DC)

Record Details


Hanson, Halfdan M., 1884-1952 (Architect)

Material Type

architectural records

Other People

Brayton, Linda
Brown, Johnny Mack
Calkins, Grosvenor, 1875-
Crawford, Joan, 1908-1977
Greenough, Davis S.
Hanson, Halfdan M., 1884-1952
Lindeberg, H. T. (Harrie Thomas), 1879-
Makepeace, B. L.
McCann, Charles E. F.
McCann, Helena Woolworth
McCarthy, Catherine A.
Möller, M. P. (Matthias Peter)
Newton, Jacqueline
Proctor, Joseph O.
Ray, Phyllis
Sargent, Winthrop
Sinkler, Caroline Sidney, 1860-1949
Sleeper, Henry Davis, 1878-1934
Sleeper, Stephen Westcott, 1874-1956
McCann, Helena Woolworth
Andrew, A. Piatt (Abram Piatt), 1873-1936

Other Organizations

Board of Trade (Gloucester, Mass.)
International Correspondence Schools
Ipswich (Mass.)
Lodge Spiran #98 (Newton, Mass.)
North Shore Amusement Company (Gloucester, Mass.)
Ralph Dodge Associates (Gloucester, Mass.)
Ten Associates (Gloucester, Mass.)
United Fisheries Company
United States. Department of the Treasury


·This collection is available for research.
·Note: due to aging materials and condition of the materials, the whole of the collection requires handling with care.

Description Level


Location Note

Manuscripts in HGO-02-105-A-E-306; Drawings in HGO-01-001-H-B-16, HGO-01-001-H-B-17, HGO-01-001-H-B-18, HGO-01-001-H-B-19.

Accruals Note

Accruals are not expected.

Language Note

Materials in English

Preferred Citation

[Item identification.] Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952) architectural collection (AR010). Historic New England, Library and Archives.

Processing Information

·Ca.1983-1985: Lorna Condon

·2014 July: Updated by Bridgette A. Woodall, project archivist; with assistance from Jennifer Pustz, museum historian

Rules and Conventions

Finding aid is DACS-compliant.

Related Items

Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House collection
Inventory of the Architectural Drawings of Halfdan M. Hanson. Library and Archives, Historic New England, Boston, Massachusetts.

Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

Halfdan M. Hanson was born on November 30, 1884, in Tonsberg, Norway. He came to the United States as an infant. His father, Henry M. Hanson, was a ship rigger at Steele's Wharf in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and his mother, Maren S. Evanson, worked as a domestic. Hanson's first early work was woodworking, carpentry, and some maintenance of the summer cottage of Winthrop Sargent at Bass Rocks, near Good Harbor Beach. Soon he began to supervise other workmen on the upkeep of the residence, including painting and repair, and he was given the responsibility of a constructing a den or office for Sargent by enclosing part of the porch at the northern end of the living room. Sargent apparently recognized Hanson's abilities, and with foresight and generosity made it possible for him to take the necessary architectural courses from the International Correspondence School in Philadelphia. He was twenty years old when he graduated in 1904, and he started on his career as a designer and architect. In 1908, he married Annie Louise Olsen from his East Gloucester neighborhood and purchased a house at 54 East Main Street, Gloucester. His first architectural project after his marriage was the summer residence for Henry Davis Sleeper at Eastern Point, Gloucester. This began an association with Sleeper and his friends and neighbors, Caroline Sinkler and A. Piatt Andrew, which brought about many projects. Sleeper was an interior decorator in Boston and began his house called Beauport in 1907-08. Hanson was Sleeper's architect for twenty-seven years, which covered many changes in Beauport. In February, 1912, Hanson opened his office in the Andrews building, 119 Main Street, in Gloucester, on the second floor. Here he had, at least in one period of time, "four draftsmen working night and day to complete projects for many of his clients." Many of the contracts were in Gloucester (Bass Rocks, Brier Neck, Eastern Point, and the inner city), Rockport, Magnolia, Manchester, Beverly, Newton, and the Boston area. In 1918 he was drafted and, after serving in the State Guard, was appointed to the Ordnance Department in Washington, D.C. He was there for three years, from May 1 to April 3, 1921. Some of his work there included designing bases, emplacements for large guns at the Panama Canal, and equipment for transporting the huge railway cannon known as Big Bertha. While in Washington, Hanson worked on private commissions. By 1920-21, his health had reached a point at which it could not be ignored. With the kind help and suggestions of Sleeper, Hanson moved to Denver, Colorado, for its dry climate and the best available treatment for tuberculosis in that era. The stay lasted longer than anticipated, and he did not return to Gloucester until 1931, but he continued to work on Beauport. When Henry Davis Sleeper died in 1934, Charles and Helena Woolworth McCann, daughter of the founder of the five-and-dime store, bought the house. Hanson made a set of plans for additions to the property. Although Hanson's illness had become inactive by the time he had left Denver, the extent of damage had shortened his life. Halfdan Hanson died on September 12, 1952, at the age of 68.***

*Sources: Material within AR010.
**Letter to Ms. Ellie Reichlin, Director of Archives, 10 November 1983.
***Biographical sketch by Phyllis Ray, daughter of Halfdan M. Hanson (1884-1952)Biographical Sketch -- Gloucester Board of Trade publication, 1916. H.M. Hanson, architect, 119 Main St. In all that pertains to the building industry, Gloucester is self-contained and independent. Closely identified with this interest, of course must be classed the architect's profession, and this is well represented here by Mr. H. M. Hanson, who first commenced practice here about eight years ago. He has been noticeably successful. His energies are devoted to all that pertains to the architect's vocation, including the making of plans, submitting estimates, and the supervision of the erection of buildings of every description. As exponents of the character and versatility of his work we will instance a few notable exponents. Thus we will mention, the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage in Gloucester, the residence of Henry David Sleeper, Esq., at Eastern Point (old county English style), the residence of Grosvenor Calkins, Esq., at Farlow Road in Newton, the residence of Joseph O. Procter, Jr, Esq., at Bass Rocks and many others, not only in Gloucester but also in Newton, Beverly, West Manchester, Magnolia, and elsewhere. While all classes of work come within his operations he makes a specialty of summer residences. He is in close touch with a wide circle of clients who are in a position to build and enjoy residences of this class although he is open to all kinds of work, from the largest factory or public building to the smallest cottage. Mr. Hanson invites inquiries and will be glad to enter into correspondance, furnishing plans, estimates, and all particulars. Before establishing himself here, he was identified with architects' work for some five years previously. Since starting on his own account, he has achieved a high reputation for efficiency and for the faithful carrying out of all obligations incurred, and the satisfaction of former clients serves as his best reference. We might here mention that Mr. Hanson is open to work in conjunction with architects at a distance who may have furnished plans for residences, and being on the spot he can superise the erection of the same under the most favorable conditions. Altogether we may say in conclusion that all who may be interested in building of residences or other structures will do well to consult with this gentleman who has every legitimate inducement to offer to clients.



The collection is arranged in three series: Series I. Biographical, financial, and other papers. Series II. Correspondence re: commissions. Series III. Commissions.

*Collection housing/storage code: #x.x=file box (i.e., #1.2= file box 1, folder 2); C=carton; FB=folio box; FF=fragile files; MB=multi-purpose box; OB=oversize box/folder; OV=oversize volume; VF=vertical files/flat files