At the heart of the current Candler Library Renovation and Expansion
project is the restoration of the magnificent Reading Room.
In the 1950’s, the two-story Reading Room and the lobby were
divided in half horizontally by inserting additional floors. (See 1950's
Renovation for a detailed description.) The goal was to provide
more space for the expanding collections and programs of Candler Library,
Emory's first separate library building.
Now forty-five years later, these added floors have been removed. Restored
to its original two-story grandeur, the Reading Room houses Emory's
current periodicals collection. An overhead pedestrian bridge will connect
the Candler Library Reading Room to Level 3 of the Robert
W. Woodruff Library next door.
Mrs. Marjorie Anderson Matheson of Hobe Sound, Florida, contributed
the generous gift of $1.5 million to the Candler Library renovation
project in honor of her husband, William L. Matheson ’47G. A Mercer
University graduate, Matheson was enrolled as a master’s candidate in
history at Emory for the academic year 1946-1947. He left Emory to pursue
a law degree at the University of Virginia, then became a corporate
lawyer in New York and subsequently chairman of Michigan Gas (later
Michigan Energy Resources).
Mrs. Matheson’s husband had already endowed two prizes at Emory
College. But she was concerned that, for all his philanthropy, nothing
bore Matheson’s name at Emory—an omission she rectified
with her gift.
Unfortunately, Matheson died in early December 2002, just as Mrs. Matheson’s
gift arrived at the University. Matheson had been a loyal and generous
supporter of the University, creating two awards for student achievement
in memory of two major figures in his life. The first award is the Archie
Drake Prize, named in honor of Matheson’s boyhood friend in Macon, Georgia,
who was killed in combat during World War II. It is awarded to an Emory
College junior who displays remarkable growth in academic and leadership
promise. The second award, the Lucius L. McMullan Award, bestows $20,000
upon a graduating senior of exceptional achievement and merit. Lucius
McMullan, a leading figure in Hart County, Georgia, was mentor, sponsor,
and uncle of Matheson.
The Reading Room in the Candler Library has been named the William
L. Matheson Reading Room in honor of this remarkably devoted
and generous alumnus. Emory remains deeply grateful to Mrs. Matheson
for this handsome, timely, and fitting gift.