This Thursday, November 10, Boalt Hall librarian and archivist Bill Benemann gave an illustrated talk on the design, construction and early use of the original Boalt Hall. Though the building is now known as Durant Hall and it is currently the home of the East Asian Languages Department, it was designed specifically for the Department of Jurisprudence, and it was the home of the law program at Berkeley from 1911-1951.
The old Boalt Hall was a small Beaux Arts masterpiece designed by John Galen Howard. Benemann’s talk, “The Architect, the Widow and the Dean: How the Law School Became Boalt Hall,” explored how the building was shaped by the Phoebe Hearst International Competition to design the campus of the University of California, and traced the ill-fated role of Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt in financing its construction. He also presented a close “reading” of the building to reveal what it says to us about the role of legal education on the Berkeley campus, the status of the students vs. the faculty, and the proper place for women in a law school.