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Celebrating the Life

Battle Hall over time

Timeline photo gallery
[Click to open and close the gallery]

Sept 15, 1883: In his speech during the University’s opening ceremony, Board of Regents chair Ashbel Smith elaborated on the need for a separate library building.

1909: Preliminary discussions between UT President Mezes, Col. House, and Cass Gilbert concerning UT buildings. Texas state legislature acts to make construction on campus possible.

Dec. 4,1909: Gov. Thomas Mitchell Campbell releases funds, and UT announces that work will commence on a new library.

Jan. 11, 1910: Cass Gilbert becomes the University architect and accepts commission for the Library project.

Cornerstone ceremony

1910: Gilbert works on library design, receiving communications from head librarian Nathaniel L. Goodrich, and Pres. Sidney Mezes.

April 19,1910: Site prep begins.

Nov. 2, 1910: Library cornerstone is laid at a Masonic ceremony with Gov. Campbell presiding.

1911: The University of Texas Library opens in August…but there are no stacks, elevator, or furnishings. Book boxes are swung in through a window via crane. The Reading Room floor begins to crack under the weight of piles of books. The UT President and other administrative offices occupy the first floor till 1918.

August 1911: Gov. Colquitt vetoes university appropriation of $130,000, which means that the library interior cannot be completed in 1911.

Mar. 29, 1912: UT Regents appropriate $55,000 for additional equipment of library.

1912: Electricity comes into the building. The circulation desk, an elevator, the wooden grilles, and five levels of stacks are installed (the remaining two are installed by 1920), and the rest of the library collection is moved in.

Governor Ferguson leaves Battle Hall

1916: The Board of Regents gather with Gov. Jim Ferguson in their meeting room in the Library to discuss Ferguson’s allegations of misappropriated funds. His accusations were proven erroneous, with the Cactus noting “the appropriations barely sufficed, leaving small possibility of misappropriation.”

1918: UT President and other administrative officers move to Sutton Hall. The newly acquired Wrenn Library is installed in the southeast “suite” on the first floor, the space formerly occupied by the President’s office.

Nov. 14, 1919: UT’s service flag, a patriotic tribute to the faculty and alumni who served in World War I, was returned to the archives, then housed in the Library, to be preserved. Read more about this symbol of UT’s commitment to the war effort.

1919: Faculty Building Committee recommends that an extension be built on to the already crowded library.

1919–23: Library Science school is housed on the first floor.

1919 or 1920: The final two levels of stacks are installed.

1920: Major George W. Littlefield lies in state in the building’s main entrance hall, an honor bestowed upon him for his significant contributions to UT as a Regent and philanthropist.

1926: Plans prepared by Herbert M. Greene for a much-needed library extension, only 15 years after its opening. Learn more about Greene’s work and legacy at UT.

1926: The Chemistry Building burns, shifting funding away from the library extension.

Post office in Old Library Building

1932: Beck’s Lake is removed during construction of Goldsmith Hall.

1933–38: The main library collection and Wrenn Library moves to the new Main Building and Tower. The Library building is renamed “Old Library.”

1934–38: Various offices, ranging from faculty, the campus foreman, investment officer, real estate rental, a stenography bureau, and a post office, operate out of the Old Library.

1936: The Old Library serves as one of the Texas Centennial Exposition sites. The Exposition was kicked off with the “turning of a key in an ancient lock in the door of the Old Library,” and the astronomy department set up a planetarium in the Reading Room.

1938–48: The newly created Fine Arts department moves into the Old Library. The Reading Room is used for art studios, drama rehearsals, and Longhorn Band practice.

1936–39: J. Frank Dobie, American folklorist and writer, offices in the Old Library.

1941 and 1946: Regents approve creation of Eugene Barker Texas History Center in the Old Library.

1942: The Fine Arts dean and other department members relocate to the new Music Building.

1942–47: Charles Umlauf, sculptor, offices in the Old Library (the same space where Dobie had worked, room 201).

1947: Fine Arts classes move out.

1948: The Old Library receives a $100,000 refurbishment for the Barker Center: new marble steps to second floor, new linoleum in the Reading Room, repainting, new fixtures and furnishings, kitchenette, and new millwork. The rose-colored rotunda is repainted. 

1950: Barker Texas History Center dedicated, and the Texas State Historical Association moves in to offices on the first floor. Discover the origins of the Barker Center.

1951: The Barker Center’s Reading Room is dedicated as the James Stephen Hogg Reading Room.

Battle Hall as Architecture, Education/Psychology and Music libraries

1962: West Mall Building completed.

1963–64: Air conditioning installed in Barker Center.

1970: Building is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1973: Barker Center, now known as the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, moves to Sid Richardson Hall. Architecture, Education/Psychology, and Music libraries move in. The building is renamed Battle Hall in honor of past UT president William J. Battle.

1977–80: Toward the goal of a focused architecture library branch, the Education/Psychology Library moves out (1977), followed by Fine Arts administrative offices (1979), and the Music Library (1980).

1979: Battle Hall becomes part of the School of Architecture “campus,” housing the Architecture and Planning Library and other school offices. The Architectural Drawings Collection is established.

1981: UT Regents authorize restoration of Battle Hall (which is not realized) as part of improvements to the School of Architecture facilities.

1993: Battle Hall receives $70,000 exterior “facelift.”

1997: The Texas Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians sponsored a campaign to name the Architectural Drawings Collection after its founder, UT School of Architecture professor Blake Alexander. Today, the Alexander Architectural Archive is the largest such resource in Texas, containing over a quarter of a million drawings, nearly 2,000 linear feet of papers including over 40,000 photographic prints, 17,500 negatives, 160,000 slides, 8,000 post cards and films, audio visual media and artifacts, representing thousands of projects in Texas as well as New York, Chicago, California, and Great Britain. Enjoy the inaugural exhibit, “Blake’s Choice.”

1997: The Charles W. Moore Room opens, shortly after the donation of the Charles W. Moore Library and Archives. In addition to housing the Moore Archives, the space serves as the Alexander Architectural Archive reading room.

1999: Cesar Pelli & Associates develop a new campus master plan and directs that works like Battle Hall “establish the basic language of form and character for large and small buildings designed for the University from this point forward.”

2000: The Architecture and Planning Library acquires the Colin Rowe and Paul P. Cret special collection libraries.

2007: The American Institute of Architects name Battle Hall on its list of America’s Favorite Architecture. See the complete list.

2010: The Architecture and Planning Library collections include more than 96,000 volumes, including 19,595 in Special Collections, and 200 print and 100 electronic serial subscription titles, and critical database resources.

2011: The Battle Hall/West Mall Office Building feasibility study evaluates the future of Battle Hall.

Imade citations: "Cornerstone ceremony, Nov. 2nd, 1910, Library, Austin," courtesy of the New-York Historical Society; "Governor vs. Regents,  Gov. Ferguson leaves Library," Cactus 1916-17 yearbook, Perry-Castañeda Library, The  University of Texas at Austin; Post office, "A Photographic Tour of The University of Texas," 1936, courtesy of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History; Education/psychology Library in Battle Hall, courtesy of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.