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Library (Old)

Vital Statistics






A. Rosenbery (North Wing) and Grace and Kelly (South Wing)



Also Known As:

Architecture Hall; Navy Hall (1945-1947)

Perhaps no other building represents the early years of the University better than the former Library, now known as Architecture Hall. Today it stands as the only 19th century building on the city campus, and the only building that reminds visitors of the University's Victorian era beginnings.

The University Library was dedicated at an opening reception held Dec. 10, 1895. Originally the first floor of the Library housed the Nebraska State Historical Society and its library of 10,000 volumes. The second level was devoted entirely to library functions, and the third level contained the art gallery and instructional rooms for mechanical and free hand drawing. As early as 1912 Chancellor Avery informed the Historical Society that the entire building was needed for library purposes.

The Library, now called Architecture Hall, is constructed of Colorado sandstone on concrete footings. Specifications for the upper levels required that the building be constructed of "selected, hard burned, cherry red brick laid wet with shove joints and stone caps and sills", and cement mortar. A slate roof was specified, with copper and tin on flatter areas. The entire building, particularly the book wing (north) was designed to be fire resistant, with steel girders supporting the roof. Steel or iron roof beams were also specified. The interior of the Library was finished with oak throughout, with a conveyance system from the basement to the catalogers' rooms. Clerestory windows in the north wing provided lighting for drawing classes, and served as a ventilating device. The Library was designed to house 250,000 volumes although the facility originally contained shelving for only 35,000 volumes. The footprint of the main building is 130 x 65, the north wing is 50 x 75.

Construction of the Library was started in 1892 with partial funding of $37,000 received from the State Legislature. This funding was used to construct the north wing. In 1893 a severe economic depression occurred and further appropriation for the building was delayed. This left the partially completed library, with no door, marooned on the southwest corner of campus, until finally, when the Legislature convened in 1895, an additional $75,000 was appropriated for completion of the south, main portion of the Library.

Designs for the Library were submitted by two architecture firms: Fiske, Shaffer , and Ellis of Lincoln, and Mendelssohn, Fisher and Lawrie of Omaha. Mendelssohn, Fisher and Lawrie were selected by the Board of Regents in June 1891. The building committee was headed by Regent Charles Gere, founder of the Nebraska State Journal (later the Lincoln Journal-Star). George Howard, a popular professor, also served on the committee. Howard had served as librarian for the University in the early 1880's.

Major renovation of the old Library, known for many years as Architecture Hall, occured in 1985-1987 at a cost of $4.3 million. Bahr, Vermeer, and Haecker served as architects, having won a competition held in 1978. The renovation linked Architecture Hall and the old Law College through the creation of a glass link. The exterior of the renovated building is basically unchanged from its original form, with the exception being the loss of a chimney on the northeast corner of the north wing.
The clock over the main entry (east) was a gift of the class of 1912.

Architecture Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Source Information:
Sources: 1/1/1 b9, f77; 1/1/1 b11 f93; b&g file arch hall; 12th biennial rpt of regents p4; 14th biennial, p18.