Bowles Hall History

The Beginnings

Bowles Hall was built with a $350,000 grant from Mary McNear Bowles in memory of her husband, Phillip E. Bowles, who had been the UC Regent. It was designed by architect George William Kelham. However, the Library, more formally known as the Julian and Helen Hart Memorial Library, was added later with a grant from their son and daughter.

Bowles opened in 1929 for residency. Rooms originally consisted of a central common room with singles on either side of the common room.

The Middle Years

Eventualy a very unique atmosphere was created in Bowles. Participation in Hall events and traditions was exceedingly high, which helped foster incredibly strong friendships that, in some cases, still exist today. The Traditions evolved out of games and jokes that Bowlesmen played (sometimes on each other). Bowles was a mostly self-regulating community of men that were academically and intellectually prosperous as well as enjoying an active and interesting social life.

After World War II, the demand for rooms increased dramatically, so the occupancy of each room was doubled by putting two beds in the common room.

Bowles Itself

Bowles resembles a castle and is built on a hill overlooking the UC Berkeley campus. Built to resemble some of the Gothic buildings on the Yale campus, Bowles is constructed mainly out of concrete, but features stained wood paneling in the main entrance hallway and the common room to the right of the main entrance. The main staircase is also built out of the same darkly stained wood.

Recent Years

Unfortunately, the self-regulation that Bowles enjoyed got out of hand and in 2004, all residents of Bowles were removed from the Hall. The First Year Experience was started in Bowles to try to create a positive experience for the freshmen that would be entirely occupying the Hall. The traditions were not lost in this transition; instead, the traiditons, which were part of what made Bowles so much fun for those who had previously lived there, were evolved to fit modern American society with the help of the Hall Staff and some students that had parents and relatives that had lived in Bowles.

For the 2006-2007 school year, the layout of the majority of the rooms in Bowles was again changed by removing the beds in the central room but putting a bunk bed in each of the side rooms, keeping the occupancy of each quad the same but encouraging community by re-creating the common rooms. However, some rooms cannot be converted like so because of the layout of some of the side rooms, most notably on the seventh floor where the roof slants too steeply to fit bunks into the room.