Names like Seaver, Chalmers, Rugby and Mudd are all used daily to describe where classes are taught, where a test will take place or where to meet up with a friend. Before the names were signs on buildings, they were the names of people who taught at, donated to or studied on this campus, or emblems of the type of education that the Harvard School for Boys wanted to offer.
The oldest building on the upper school campus, St. Saviour’s Chapel, was dedicated in 1914, making this school year the chapel’s 100-year anniversary. It first dwelled in the original campus of Harvard School on Western Avenue in Venice, so when Harvard moved to Coldwater Canyon, the chapel was cut into 16 pieces and moved to the new campus, where it was then reassembled, according to “Harvard-Westlake: 100 Years,” a commemorative book on the history of the school by Susan Wels.
Modeled after a chapel at the Rugby School in England, St. Saviour’s takes its name from the Saint Saviour’s Cathedral in Southwark, England, where John Harvard, founder of Harvard University, was baptized.
The chapel’s name is another example of Harvard’s debt to the university, along with the name of the school itself. Harvard School founder Grenville C. Emery wanted to give his new school a good name, so, with permission from then Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot, he named it after the college.
The chapel is now a cultural and historical monument of the city of Los Angeles.
Rugby Hall is named after the same school whose chapel inspired St. Saviour’s. However, the present day Rugby, which dates back to 1962, is not the original.
The building where Rugby now stands was a Turkish bath house, a remnant of the Coldwater campus’ former owner. Harvard School replaced the Hollywood Country Club, which sold the land after struggling during the Great Depression.
When Harvard moved in, it painted the walls and replaced the lockers with desks and chairs, while a study hall replaced the baths.
Chalmers Hall, dedicated Nov. 24, 1968, is named after Father William Scott Chalmers, an Episcopalian priest who headed Harvard School from 1949 to 1969.
During his tenure, he introduced the prefect system and the foreign exchange program and raised $3.5 million to construct the building that bears his name.
Chalmers was born in Scotland in 1907, attended Howe Military Academy in Indiana and graduated from Princeton in 1925.
In 1938, Chalmers joined Kent School in Connecticut. When Kent’s headmaster had a stroke a year later, Chalmers took his place.
After 10 years at Kent, Harvard offered Chalmers the job as headmaster.
Dedicated in October 1969, The Blanche and Frank R. Seaver Academic Center was named after Frank Seaver and his wife Blanche.
A total of 10 members of the Seaver family attended Harvard school, beginning in 1964. Seaver’s grandchildren, Christopher Seaver ’65, Hannah Seaver ’07. Jeanne Reau ’02, Kyle Reau ’04, Nathan ’06 Reau, Ann Seaver ’06, Claire Seaver ’07, and Nicholas Seaver ’03 all attended Harvard-Westlake.
The Seaver Foundation was donated to Harvard School in Frank’s name.
Seaver’s son, Richard, was a trustee of Harvard School.
Not too long after Seaver came Mudd Library, built in the early 1970s. The library owes its name to Seeley G. Mudd, a physician who practiced cardiology in Los Angeles while working at the California Institute of Technology to find a cure for cancer.
A dozen of Mudd’s relatives, including children and grandchildren, attended Harvard, with the first student graduating in 1913.
Mudd has also donated to Stanford University, Columbia University and a variety of other institutions.
Any student who has taken a science class is familiar with Munger, named after lawyer Charles Munger, vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, who donated the funds for the science building in 1995.
A long-time trustee, his three sons, Charles Munger ’74, Barry Munger ’80, Phillip Munger ’86, and two stepsons, David Borthwick ’66, David Borthwick ’70, graduated from Harvard school along with a grandson, William Borthwick ’09, who attended Harvard-Westlake.
Taper Gymnasium, dedicated in 1980, was named after Mark and Amelia Taper, grandparents of Andrew Taper ’78. Mark Taper, born in Poland in 1902, was a real estate investor.
He founded Biltmore Homes, which produced suburban housing for returning soldiers from World War II.
In 1952, the Tapers created the S. Mark Taper Foundation, which continues to donate to various institutions.
Home to the publications and maintenance departments, Weiler Hall has a more obscure moniker.
Ralph J. Weiler has no personal connection to the school, but his nephew Bart Burnap ’50 is a Harvard alumnus. Burnap was named the director of Weiler Foundation in Weiler’s will.
“I presume the building is named in Mr. Weiler’s memory by his nephew,” school archivist Allan Sasaki said.
Feldman-Horn Center for the Arts bears the names of former trustee Janis Horn (Jennifer ’91, Jason ’91, Hali ’97) as well as Horn’s father, Leonard Feldman. One of the newer buildings on campus, it was completed by Michael Maltzan Architecture in 1998 and cost $5.5 million.
The bronze cougar statue that sits in the Feldman-Horn plaza also came from the Feldman-Horn family.
When the gallery was dedicated, the family displayed its personal art collection inside, and some faculty members liked the cougar so much that they donated a recast copy to the school.
The Kutler Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, which debuted Sept. 28 2012, is dedicated to Brendan Kutler ’10, who died in his sleep during his senior year.
He cultivated interests in many different fields, ranging from astronomy to Japanese culture to music, which he often wished to combine in interdisciplinary fashions.
The Kutler Center was financed by Kutler’s parents, Jon and Sara Kutler, and donations from the Harvard-Westlake community.
**Additional reporting by Julia Aizuss