Although the University of Oregon opened its doors in 1876, an official library was not established until 1891, when Henry Villard donated a book collection valued at $1,000. As collections grew during the next twenty years, the library moved to progressively larger quarters in various locations. The 1905 legislature appropriated funds for a new library building, now Fenton Hall. The building was completed in 1907, and a fireproof stack annex was added in 1913.
Knight Library was designed by Ellis F. Lawrence and constructed in 1937. The facade has been described as "exotic . . . a combination of modernized Lombardy and Greco-Roman with art deco details." The building contains exceptionally fine exterior and interior decorative work, including the fifteen stone heads by Edna Dunberg and Louise Utter Pritchard, ornamental memorial gates by O. B. Dawson, carved wooden panels by Arthur Clough, and two large murals painted by Albert and Arthur Runquist. The 1937 building and the quadrangle it faces are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Additions to the Knight Library were constructed in 1950 and 1966. During a third expansion and renovation project, a 132,000-square-foot addition was completed in 1992, and substantial renovation of the existing building was completed in 1994.
Teague, Edward H.: Historic Knight Library: Art and Architecture (2017).