In 1905, only five years after it was founded, the Order began to plan for a permanent meeting place on campus. The University granted permission to the Order to build a student hall. The Order raised enough money to construct what became known as “Golden Bear Lodge” and then later as “Senior Men’s Hall” in 1906. Today, the building is simply known as “Senior Hall.” The rustic structure, designed by the renowned University Supervising Architect John Galen Howard, still survives as the “log cabin” located along Strawberry Creek upstream of the Faculty Club. John Galen Howard’s intent was to reflect “characteristic California Architecture” and he accepted no fee for his work. Funding for the building came from private donors. In the early days of the building, Professor of History Henry Morse Stephens likened Senior Hall to the “heart” of the University, situated close to the “mind” of the Faculty Club. The building retains its original decor and furnishings.
Over the decades Senior Hall became a favorite place for male student gatherings including weekly “senior singings” and talks by athletic coaches about their team prospects. A number of student organizations also used the building for their traditional events and meetings. Women students soon expressed a need for their own building and successfully raised funds for it, completing Girton Hall nearby in 1912 to a donated design by famed architect and Berkeley alumna Julia Morgan. In 2013 Girton Hall was moved to the UC Botanical Garden and renovated as an event center.
By the 1970s Senior Hall had physically deteriorated and there was a proposal to demolish it to allow the Faculty Clubs to expand. Campus and community resistance arose, and the building was reprieved from destruction and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. In the early 1980s, Senior Hall had deteriorated to the point that it was deemed unfit for usage by the University. However, the Order of the Golden Bear was able to raise enough money to restore the building enough reopen it for limited use.
Reserving the Hall
While other buildings on campus have replaced the Senior Hall’s historical function as a student union, the building still provides many of its original uses. The building remains under the control of the Order.
Student groups and other University related entities occasionally hold meetings in the hall. Please note that rental of the Senior Hall is not open to the general public but only University related entities. For more information please contact the Senior Hall Building Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.