Beloved Bapst Library has been named the “most beautiful college library” by the national college news website Campus Grotto. The Bapst building, which contains both the Bapst Art Library and the Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections, is a beautiful building and many visitors want to know more about its architecture and history. The information below the photo of Gargan Hall is also available on the Bapst Library website and was compiled by Art Librarian Adeane Bregman.
“The Bapst Library, named after the first president of Boston College, Father John Bapst, was the fourth of a projected group of twenty buildings that Father Gasson had envisioned for the new campus. He wished to emulate Oxford University’s English Gothic style throughout the group, as being suited to its quiet, suburban locale and the twisting approach from Commonwealth Avenue. The groundbreaking for Bapst Library took place on October 31, 1922; the architectural firm was Maginnis and Walsh, of Boston.
By the summer of 1925 work had been completed up to the first story. Due to a lack of funds, a temporary roof was put up and the assembly hall, now the Kresge Reading Room, was put into use. The stacks and the circulation desk were located in the basement. Sunday masses were offered for the public in the auditorium; in fact, the parish of St. Ignatius had its beginnings at those services.
Donations were not long in coming, principally a donation from Helen Gargan in memory of her husband Thomas J. Gargan, a prominent Boston lawyer and philanthropist. By late September of 1925 construction resumed, and the dedication of the completed library was held at commencement, June 13, 1928, almost 15 years to the day after the laying of the cornerstone for the first building on the heights, Gasson Hall.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about the stained glass windows throughout the Bapst building, check out the recent book titled Transforming Light. It is a wonderful read and the pictures are fabulous!
If you’d like to find out more about the architecture and art in the Bapst Building, then take a look at this book: Boston College Library: History and Description, published in 1933. Copies are available in the O’Neill Reference Area and in the Burns Reading Room.