Oberlin College Archives


Spear Library-Laboratory




Tappan Square, near Main Street (demolished)


Weary and Kramer, Akron (architects)
Parker and Kinney, Norwalk, OH (contractors)


Richardsonian Romanesque


Spear Library was the gift of Charles C. Spear, of Pittsfield, Mass. The cornerstone was laid October 6, 1884; it was dedicated November 2, 1885. The building was made of stone and measured 70 by 70 feet. It was named in honor of the donor, who also established an endowment fund for the purchase of books, this fund being known as the Relief Holbrook Fund, in memory of the donor's wife, Mrs. Relief Holbrook Spear. From 1885 to 1908 the main use of this building was for college library purposes, but it was sufficiently large to house the departments of Natural History and Biology and the Oberlin College Museum without crowding the library. After the removal of the library to the new Carnegie Library in the summer of 1908, it was remodelled for the department of Zoology. Spear Library-Laboratory was located on Tappan Square until it was torn down by the College in the fall of 1927 to clear the campus of buildings, in accordance with the contract with the Trustees of the Hall Estate. Charles Martin Hall's will provided a substantial sum of money for the College with the proviso that Tappan Square be cleared of buildings to provide a permanent green space. Thus all then-standing structures on Tappan Square, except for the Memorial Arch, were demolished in 1927.


Oberlin College Archives, Office of the Secretary Records.

Historical Map

Image Description

Black and white, gelatin silver later contact print from 8 x 10 in. negative, 1910
(© Oberlin College Archives, RG 32/4)