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About this collection

The Graduate Theological Union Library was designed to become the central meeting place for the consortium. The building houses the library,  which holds over 400,000 books and many journals and microforms, as well as much of the GTU administration.  This collection is a work in process and  documents the major events in the library's history, from its early history as a bibliographic center, to the selection of Louis Kahn to design the building, to the local architects who took over after Kahn died, to developments to repair and modernize the facility.


  • Before 1890's: Area know as Daley's Scenic Park developed as "beautiful Berkeley"
  • 1894: Frank M. Wilson moves into carriage house on lot that becomes 2400 Ridge Road.
  • September 17, 1923:  Fire destroys much of north Berkeley. Wilson house one of the few that survives.
  • September 24, 1962:  Graduate Theological Union founded.
  • 1968 : Raymond Wilson dies. Property purchased by ABSW, with some funds provided by SFTS and then by GTU. Site becomes known as Maggie's Farm.
  • February 1971:  Patrick Quinn and Francis Oda, Graduate Theological Union Library Program, recommends a common library.
  • October 1972:  Louis I. Kahn retained to design building.
  • March 17, 1974:  Kahn dies, after having sketched the preliminary design.
  • December 1974:  Joseph Esherick and Richard C. Peters, both students and friends of Kahn, are retained to complete design.
  • May 1975:  Design completed, GTU applies to City of Berkeley for use permit, demolition permit and street abandonment.
  • July 1975:  Berkeley Board of Adjustments denies permits.
  • May 1976:  Berkeley City Council approves demolition and use permits. Street abandonment dropped to accommodate neighborhood desires.
  • July 1976:  Wilson house demolished.
  • November 1976:  Cost reduction studies completed. Construction documents begin.
  • July 1977:  Excavation begins.
  • September 1977:  Construction documents completed. Due to cost, library is to be built in two phases: Phase 1, basement and first floor; Phase 2, second and third floor.
  • October 1977:  Christensen and Foster awarded construction bid.
  • July 1979:  Phase 1 construction begins.
  • February 1981:  Phase 1 completed.
  • July 1985:  Phase 2 construction begins.
  • March 1987:  Phase 2 completed.
  • May 5, 1987:  Building dedicated as Flora Lamson Hewlett Library.
  • September 1993:  Stephen De Stabler's Winged Figure dedicated.
  • 2005-6:  Building leaks repaired and plantings replaced.
  • 2009: Roof replaced.

Building awards:

Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture Citation for Excellence in Design:  Esherick, Homsey, Dodge, & Davis and Peters, Clayberg, & Caulfield Architects, Louis I. Kahn, Schematic Design.  Flora Lamson Hewlett Library of the Graduate Theological Union.  n.d.   Paper, mounted and framed, 16½” x 13½ “.

American Institute of Architects, San Francisco Chapter 1989 Honor Awards Program:  Award of Honor for Design Excellence.  Project:  Flora Lamson Hewlett Library and Administration Center;  Owner:  Graduate Theological Union;  Architect:  Esherick, Homsey, Dodge, & Davis and Peters, Clayberg, & Caulfield Architects Associated, Conceptual Design by Louis Kahn.  Paper, mounted and framed, 17” x 21½”. 

The American Institute of Architects and The American Library Association Award of Excellence to Esherick, Homsey, Dodge, & Davis and Peters, Clayberg, & Caulfield Architects Associated (conceptual design by Louis Kahn) and the Graduate Theological Union for the Flora Lamson Hewlitt [sic] Library and Administration Center in recognition of distinguished accomplishment in Library Architecture, June 1989.  Paper, mounted and framed, 11” x 14”.

Northern California and Western Nevada Chapter, American Concrete Institute.  To Graduate Theological Union.  Winner, Architectural Category for Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, November 1990.  Brass plaque on concrete base in form of a shield, 9½” x 11½”.


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