#56: Study in the McGregor Room

When looking for a quiet and stress-free atmosphere, many UVA students flee to the McGregor Room, located on the second floor of Alderman Library’s East Wing. Known as the “Harry Potter Room,” this richly decorated room is filled with gorgeous rugs, comfortable seating, and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Despite the McGregor Room being a popular place to study and actually get work done, many are unaware of its unique historical background.

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 6.02.11 PMThe trustees of the McGregor Fund: Tracy W. and Katherine W. McGregor

The Harry Potter Room wasn’t always used as a place to study. The McGregor Room first opened in 1939 as a place to hold and display the Tracy W. McGregor Library, which included a collection of maps, rare book editions, and various manuscripts. Thanks to a $200,000 grant from a Detroit-based private foundation (McGregor Fund), the 2,800 square-foot room has been restored into a charming and elegant study room for students—one that replicates the style and atmosphere from Hogwarts.


William Faulkner presented a lecture in the McGregor Room

Prior to its transformation, the McGregor Room held many significant events and lecture-series. Dignified scholars and visitors include Charles Wright, William Faulkner, Robert Frost, Stephen Spender, Malcom Cowley, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and Elizabeth Taylor.


Elizabeth Taylor visiting the McGregor Room

When asked about why she studies in the McGregor Room, a second-year UVA student said, “I study here because it’s productive and stress-free; it makes studying a more fulfilling experience. I honestly never thought about the fact that it contains precious literature, but maybe it adds to the aura.” The McGregor Room is certainly one of the favorite study spots at UVA. Be sure to check this item off your fourth-year bucket list before you graduate. Even if you have senioritis or “fourth-year-itis”, it will be well worth it. And plus, you can’t leave UVA without having studied in the Harry Potter Room!


Fun Facts:

  • Twelve-foot high ceilings, walls paneled in walnut and lined with books.
  • Vault made by the Diebold Company and used during World War II to hold valuable items from the Library of Congress and National Archives, including the U.S. Constitution.
  • Renovations took six months to complete and included restoring antique light fixtures and reading tables, adding comfortable furniture, refinishing floors, removing shutters from tall windows, and installing wireless ports.
  • Pieces from the collection include the first map of the new world in Ptolemy’s Geographia (1513) and Cotton Mather’s diary from 1712.

Additionally, another historical moment took place in the McGregor room just a few weeks ago—the Harlem Shake! Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tkK7z05tKk


Link to Library Hours: http://www.library.virginia.edu/hours/#!/


Restoration Facts: http://www.virginia.edu/insideuva/2005/15/mcgregor.html. 

Facts sources: http://www.lib.virginia.edu/old-press/04-05/pdf/mcgrgrfact05.pdf

Photo Credit for Quoted Images: http://2008.lib.virginia.edu/preview/mcgregor/

E. Taylor Photo Credit: mcgregor.lib.virginia.edu