Deering Library

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Deering Library in 2008

Charles Deering Library, on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, U.S., was the main library on the Evanston campus from 1933, when it opened, until the construction of the Northwestern University Library in 1970. Deering Library houses the Northwestern University Archives on the first floor, the Music Library on the second floor, the Art Collection and the Special Collections Department on the third floor. The library is named for Charles Deering, a Northwestern benefactor and chairman of International Harvester, who provided the initial financing for the building.

Construction and the building[edit]

King's College Chapel at Cambridge University, the model for Deering Library.

Deering Library succeeded Lunt Library (now Lunt Hall) as Northwestern's principal library. Built in 1894, Lunt Library was the university's first library, but had become severely overcrowded by the 1920s. Deering Library, which was planned by Theodore Wesley Koch, University Librarian from 1919 to 1941, served as Northwestern's main library until the completion of University Library in 1970.[1][2] After the opening of the University Library, the only way to enter Deering Library was through a basement corridor that connected the new Library to the old.[3]

The site chosen for Deering Library had previously been occupied by Heck Hall, a dormitory which burned down in 1914. The library was designed by the architect James Gamble Rogers in Collegiate Gothic style. Building began in 1931, the cornerstone was laid in 1932, and the building opened in 1933.[4][5] The structure is composed of Lannon stone and was modeled after King's College Chapel at Cambridge University. It contains 68 stained glass windows by G. Owen Bonawit; many of the glass windows picture shields of other universities. The wood and stone carvings were made by the sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan.[6] The Bulletin of the American Library Association said of the wood carvings: "Captivating pelicans, pompous owls, and mischievous monkeys peer at one form decorous perches, refreshingly reminding one that the environment of scholarship need not necessarily be solemn."[5]

The initial funding for the building was provided by the family of Charles Deering, who donated $1 million for the building. Before his death, Deering had endowed a professorship in botany, and his father, William Deering, had donated Fisk Hall, another building on the Evanston campus.[7]

Library renovation[edit]

In 2013, the library underwent a $2.5 million renovation that began with restoring the West Entry, where the main doors were located, the lobby, and the outside place, as well as adding accessible-entry routes.[8][9] The library renovation received an award for "Devine Detail" from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2013 and a Palladio Award for "Restoration and Renovation" in 2016.[10][3]


  1. ^ "University Archives: Libraries - Northwestern University". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Building View, Northwestern Architecture, Northwestern University Library". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b Bock, Gordon (June 14, 2016). "HBRA Architects Restore the Charles Deering Library's West Entry". Traditional Building. Traditional Building Magazine. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Three generations of Deerings to aid Evanstone ceremony". The Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. January 11, 1932. p. 1. Retrieved 12 March 2017 – via
  5. ^ a b "The New Deering Library". Bulletin of the American Library Association. 27 (2): 91. 1933. JSTOR 25687851.
  6. ^ "Art Library: Libraries - Northwestern University". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Deering family donates million for N. U. library". The Decatur Herald. Decatur, Illinois. December 18, 1929. p. 1. Retrieved 12 March 2017 – via
  8. ^ Fox, Bette-Lee (November 15, 2013). "Opening Doors to Collaboration". Library Journal.
  9. ^ Fox, Bette-Lee (November 15, 2013). "Year in Architecture 2013: Academic Library Data". Library Journal.
  10. ^ "AIA Chicago reveals 2014 design awards". October 24, 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2017.

Coordinates: 42°03′12″N 87°40′31″W / 42.0532°N 87.6753°W / 42.0532; -87.6753

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