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Historic Knight Library: Art & Architecture

Guide to the art and architecture of the 1937 historic Knight Library, University of Oregon, Eugene.


Brownell D. Frasier was the principal designer of the interior of the Browsing Room (Adelaide Church Memorial Reading Room).

Brownell Frasier by Ann Kutka McCosh. Oil on canvas. c. 1940.
Location: UO Design Library.


Brownell Frasier

Brownell D. Frasier (Oregana, 1940)

Professor Brownell Frasier advising interior design students (source: Oregana 1940)

Brownell Dorris Frasier was born on October 21, 1896, in Eugene, Oregon. She received a BA from the University of Oregon in 1921 and subsequently studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and taught art in the Bay Area.  She practiced interior design in Boston before returning to Eugene. In 1931, she was employed by the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts and became the principal instructor of interior design courses for almost three decades. She was also an unpaid consultant for many of the university's interior projects, including her work for the Browsing Room which included designing the custom-made carpet, curtains, and furniture and selecting the art work for the room.

In 1960 and 1961, the various academic programs in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts were being differentiated as departments, but interior design did not received that distinction which did not please Frasier. When Frasier retired in 1962, President Clark approached her about establishing an endowed chair in her honor but she declined.  Her reasoning was that establishing such a recognition was not appropriate until women received the same pay as men. 

Brownell Frasier died in Eugene on October 23, 1988.

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Browsing Room, 1942. Source: Oregana. Enlarge


"Browsing Room Claims Beauty, Uniqueness, Practicality, Rest."Oregon Daily Emerald, May 20, 1939, 3.

Clark, Michael J. History of the Department of Architecture: An Evolution of Ideas. Unpublished Manuscript, 1989.

Evans, Lew. "Art Work in New Library Product of Delicate Work by Grads and Professors. "Oregon Daily Emerald, May 19, 1937.

Emerson, Kim, "University of Oregon Library and Memorial Quadrangle," National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, August 15, 1989.

"Library Browsing Room Will Be Furnished Soon."Oregon Daily Emerald, March 30, 1938, 1. Article notes that tomato-colored leather chairs were being restuffed, other furniture to be added. Notes that delay in receipt of rugs is due to internal problems in China. Notes that wall decorations have not been determined, but that woodcarvings were being considered to hang over each fireplace.