The Fondren Centennial Reading Room is now open!
The centerpiece of the Fondren Library Center renovation is the restoration of the reading room to its former grandeur, made possible by the generosity of The Fondren Foundation. Enjoy custom-designed handcrafted tables and chairs along with comfortable seating in a beautiful setting.
We’ve created a contemplative space for you to study, so come and stay awhile.
Fondren Foundation Centennial Reading Room
The 5,100-square-foot Fondren Foundation Centennial Reading Room, the centerpiece of the renovations, has been restored to its original 1940 grandeur as a signature study space for students. White oak bookcases, floor-to-ceiling casement windows and original architectural details have been restored and accented. New lighting highlights the seven plaster bas relief elements in the ceiling, sculptures by Texas sculptor Harry Lee Gibson, who is best known for his sculptures at Fair Park’s Hall of State. Each bas relief sculpture represents an important scene from literature, from Beowulf to Whitman.
More than 50 donors provided the Reading Room’s American cherry handcrafted wooden study tables and chairs, designed by Thomas Moser. Each table is topped with an amber American Craftsman design lamp.
Upper left: Fondren Foundation Centennial Reading Room
The Hillcrest Foundation Exhibit Hall, adjacent to the Reading Room, is designed to showcase the treasures in SMU library special collections. “Books, Buildings and Benefactors,” the first exhibit in the hall, will highlight signature items in the library collections, including rare books, manuscripts, photographs, prints and ephemera. Political items, such as a 1900 William Jennings Bryan presidential campaign poster, first edition books by William Faulkner and J.D. Salinger as well as historic SMU photos will be included in the exhibit.