Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Ella Strong Denison Library

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Institution Name: Scripps College
Original/Historic Place Name: Ella Strong Denison Library
Location on Campus: 1090 North Columbia Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1931original construction Kaufmann, Gordon
Designer: Gordon B. Kaufmann
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
ca. 1931-present (2006)library

Denison Library, constructed in 1931, was the second academic building to be completed on campus. As noted in the Guide to the Campus, Kaufmann carried out "Mrs. Denison's wish that the building be cruciform in shape like a Spanish renaissance chapel, which she had often visited in Spain. The large stained glass window in the main reading room, around which Mrs. Denison planned the building, is called the Gutenberg window. Designed and executed by Nicola D'Ascenzo of Philadelphia, this window with its Chartres blues, rich golds, and reds carries as its theme the 'Evolution of the Book,' with Johann Gutenberg the dominating figure. The 21 stained glass windows on the balcony and lower floor of the literature room (north transept) were presented by Mrs. Denison in 1939. Each bears the design of the mark of an early printer."

"The Northern, or Valencia Court of the library has a stone fountain of the second or third century A.D. that once adorned the court of some Roman patrician's villa.
Above this fountain and set in the wall is a leopard head of black Nubian marble. The Southern, or Sicilian Court has in the center a stone wellhead from the Island of Sicily. It bears the inscription Servedo seaquista and the date 1575" (Bruce Coats and Judy Harvey Sahak, Guide to the Scripps College Campus [Claremont, CA: Scripps College, 2002]). This stone wellhead was moved to Valencia Court in 1985.

Denison Library was named in honor of the philanthropist from La Jolla and Denver.


A Tour of the Campus Including an Account of Special Collections, Certain Architectural Features, and Other Items. Claremont, CA: Scripps College, 1960.

Belloli, Jay et al. Johnson, Kaufmann, and Coate: Partners in the California Style. Claremont, CA: Trustees of Scripps College, 1997.

Bernard, Robert J., An Unfinished Dream: A Chronicle of the Group Plan of the Claremont Colleges. Claremont, CA: Claremont University Center, 1982.

Birnbaum, Charles R., and Robin Karson, eds. Pioneers of American Landscape Design. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.

Campus Master Plan. Archives, Scripps College, Claremont, CA.

Clark, Alson. "The 'California' Architecture of Gordon B. Kaufmann." Society of Architectural Historians Southern California Chapter Review 1, no. 3 (1982): 1-8.

Coats, Bruce and Judy Harvey Sahak. Guide to the Scripps College Campus. Claremont, CA: Scripps College, 2002.

Deferred Maintenance and Capital Renewal Report. [Claremont, CA: Scripps College, n.d.].

Eckbo, Garrett. Urban Landscape Design. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.

Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

Landscape and Architectural Blueprint. Forthcoming. Scripps College, Claremont, CA.

Larson, Jens Frederick and Archie MacInnes Palmer. Architectural Planning of the American College. New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1933.

Lyon, E. Wilson. The History of Pomona College, 1887-1969. Claremont, CA: Pomona College [in consortium with Scripps College], 1977.

Polyzoides, Stephanos. "Gordon B. Kaufmann, Edward Huntsman-Trout, and the Design of the Scripps College Campus." In Johnson, Kaufmann, and Coate: Partners in the California Style. Claremont, CA: Trustees of Scripps College, 1997, 83-113.

Scripps College. Cultural Landscape Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, [forthcoming].

Solomon, Barbara Miller. In the Company of Educated Women. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1985.

Turner, Paul Venable. Campus: An American Planning Tradition. New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984.


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Last update: November 2006