September 28, 2016

WU uses Luhr Library four years after purchase

President Elizabeth Stroble during spring convocation.

President Elizabeth Stroble during spring convocation.

Webster University purchased Luhr Library from Eden Theological Seminary over four years ago, but it was not used until Jan. 15 during the 2015 spring convocation.

“We hoped and expected to use this building much sooner than today,” Provost Julian Schuster said during the convocation.

Webster University’s Director of Public Relations Patrick Giblin said Luhr Library remained unoccupied since Webster purchased it in 2010, due to the university going through the city’s approval process.

The Luhr Library sits directly between Webster Hall and Eden Theological Seminary’s administration building. The university purchased the building from Eden in hopes of using the space for a science building. The Webster Groves community objected to the idea so the University modified its plans to make the space a less intensely used area.

Webster Groves ordinances 8851 and 8852, that were passed on Jan. 6, state that Webster and Eden are now zoned in two different areas. EC-1 for Eden Theological Seminary and EC-2 for Webster University. Giblin said the ordinances should not affect the university’s current plans to use the Luhr Library.

“The city’s new zoning ordinance appears to have no impact on the Luhr building. What is not know is how the zoning ordinance could impact future uses of the building 20-to- 30 years from now, as the University’s needs change,” Giblin said.

The library’s main floor will be used for tournament and practice space for Webster University’s chess program, Susan Polgar Institution for Chess Excellence (SPICE). The second floor will be used as new space for information technology center (IT).

The renovations of the Luhr library included removing old shelving, replacing carpet and adding new furniture to the main and second floor. But some of the key characteristics of the building remain intact. The signature details include structures in the shapes of trees, spaced for support throughout the building, symbolizing the tree of knowledge, and the ceiling’s layered with mahogany wood.

Giblin said Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary have collaborated for decades.

“It wasn’t uncommon for our students to come to Eden for philosophy or religion classes and students from Eden to come to Webster to take history or science classes,” Giblin said.

Giblin said the official ribbon cutting and opening of the Luhr Library will happen in March.

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