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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.


Artist: O.B. Dawson, designer and craftsman. Medium: Ironwork. Dimensions: Three pairs; each pair, 7 ft. x 7 ft. Location: Knight Library main corridor.

Arnold Bennett Hall Memorial Gates.  Source: Oregana, 1940.

Arnold Bennett Hall Memorial Gates

Arnold Bennett Hall Memorial Gates, 2014.

Arnold Bennett Hall Memorial Gates

Arnold Bennett Hall Memorial Gates, in 1989.  Photo: Kim Emerson.

In the main corridor of Knight Library are three ornamental gates: Two surround the entrance turnstiles and the third surrounds the central entrance to the Browsing Room. Originally, these gates were positioned in three entryways in a no longer extant south wall that formed a corridor separating the Browsing Room from the circulation desk area. As part of the Knight Library renovation and expansion project in the early 1990s, the wall was removed and the gates were relocated within the expanded circulation area lobby.

The gates were designed by 0. B. Dawson and executed by a crew of five or more workers in a Portland foundry. Architect Ellis Lawrence was aware of Dawson's work in Portland as was Burt Brown Barker, head of the Oregon Fine Arts Project and Portland resident whose home Lawrence had designed. The labor was furnished by the WPA and the materials were furnished by the Student Building Fee and the Alumni Holding Company. The gate in the center symbolizes the tree of life, with laurel leaves on vines and flowers bearing fruit. One gate is decorated with twisting roses in the frame of a cross in the center. The other gate is decorated with grapes and leaves also dangling from the frame of a cross in the center of the gate. All six gates are made up of geometric patterns of squares with a variety of floral patterns.


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

Force, Rachel Gwen. Blacksmith : The Significance and Preservation of O.B. Dawson's Ironwork for the WPA. University of Oregon, 2004.

Orion B. Dawson Papers, Coll 463, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon.

Sheldon, Henry, "The Hall Administration, 1926-1932," History of University of Oregon (Portland, Or.: Binfords & Mort, 1940), 233-268.


The gates are a memorial to Arnold Bennett Hall, a highly respected president of the University of Oregon who served from 1926-1932. Born July 22, 1881, in Franklin, Indiana, Hall received a law degree from the University of Chicago (1907) and was a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin when he was hired to become UO's fifth president. Hall left his position at UO to become head of the political science division of the Brookings Institute, Washington, D. C. He died in 1936.