When the Hargreaves Library opened on what is now the Eastern Washington University campus in 1940, it was meant to usher in a new era for the school.
Then-president Richard Hargreaves had been working on a new curriculum for what was then known as the State Normal School, according to university archivist Charles Mutschler. Students studied to teach kindergarten through eighth grade. Those who wanted to teach high school had to attend the University of Washington. Hargreaves wanted to give students the opportunity to earn bachelor’s degrees in Cheney.
Hargreaves had a friend in former Cheney resident Gov. Clarence D. Martin. Martin helped approve the funds to have a library built on the campus. That paved the way to expand the curriculum.
Hargreaves died while the building was still under construction, and the school decided to name it in his honor.
Mutschler said the library was a closed-stack library where students weren’t allowed to take their books with them, but read them in the building.
“This was very typical of a small college library,” Mutschler said.
But the school began to outgrow the library in the early 1960s. In 1968, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library opened, and the large reading room on Hargreaves’ second floor was divided into classrooms.
Last week, the campus celebrated a $13 million renovation of Hargreaves Hall. The reading room has been restored to its original size, bookshelves line the walls, natural light streams through the windows, and a new wing at the back of the building adds classroom space while keeping the original brick exterior intact. .
“The reading room on the second floor provides homage to its history,” President Rodolfo Arévalo said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week on the building’s steps.
The reading room and new meeting room space can accommodate special events.
School representatives, city and state officials, and members of the renovation design and construction team attended the ceremony. So did 91-year-old Yvonne Chatburn, who worked as an assistant librarian at Hargreaves for 19 years, starting in 1959.
“It’s different, but it’s beautiful,” Chatburn said. “I like what they did to it.”
Chatburn’s daughter, Alonna Chatburn, was also at the grand opening. She remembered visiting her mother at work, and how the marble walls helped cool the interior during the summer.
Amanda Piatte, an EWU senior, decided to visit the building since she once took a math class there.
“I think it’s gorgeous,” she said. She thought the front entrance was similar to what it was, but the building has changed.
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