Our Landmark Library: Battle Hall at 100

Old Library construction photos: installing windows on front façade

Over the past century Battle Hall has served the people of Texas. The building has been home to a wide variety of occupants: from freshmen students to university presidents, Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie to a U.S. Post Office, the Longhorn Band to the most cherished books, special collections, and archives in the state. Commemorating a centennial celebration, this online exhibition represents a collaboration of expertise and archival holdings centered around one of the University of Texas’ most celebrated buildings, its first library.

Battle Hall’s influence extends far beyond its four walls. Architectural historian Richard Cleary describes the impact of a single building’s design on a growing campus. Campus historian Jim Nicar reflects on its colorful social history. Researchers Sarah Cleary and Amanda Keys provide a comprehensive building biography. Luke Dunlap and Gregory Perrin conclude by showing how this historic building continues to invest in the future while remaining true to its original function as a great research library.

A Centennial Celebration for Battle Hall was held on November 11, 2011. The evening included a lecture by Lawrence Speck, held in Jessen Auditorium, Homer Rainey Hall, followed by an opening reception for the Our Landmark Library exhibition located in the grand Battle Hall reading room of the Architecture & Planning Library. Completed in Fall 2011, this website complements and extends the building's centennial celebration, exhibition and self-guided tour.

Battle Hall enables excellence in scholarship and teaching and houses collections found only at the University of Texas. It is fitting that Battle Hall has continuously served as a repository of knowledge and research materials. The irony is that most of the building’s own records are located and cared for in other archives. Beyond the UT Libraries, this collaborative effort could not have been achieved without the stewards and source material found at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, the New-York Historical Society, the Library of Congress, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Austin History Center and and the published works of Larry Speck.

All of the drawings in this exhibit are reproductions from the Cass Gilbert Papers and Architectural Drawings collection, courtesy of the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library. These reproductions are not to scale.

For further enjoyment, listen to the Texas Society of Architects' Shape of Texas episode on Battle Hall, season 9, episode 5!