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The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

During three-day Churchill celebration, GW pulls in $300,000 for new collection

Provost Steven Lerman speaks during a three-day celebration of the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Emily Benn | Hatchet Photographer
Provost Steven Lerman speaks during a three-day celebration of the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Emily Benn | Hatchet Photographer

Corrections appended

Plans for the $8 million National Churchill Library and Center on Gelman Library’s first floor began when a businessman met GW’s former president at a restaurant in London.

After a night of drinking, Laurence Geller said he was won over by former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who suggested that GW house his collection of memorabilia and documents. By the end of the night, Churchill had agreed to the project by signing a napkin.

“I woke up the next morning without a collection, but with a hangover,” Geller said to laughs at a conference Friday in the Marvin Center to raise money for the center.

The Churchill Centre, a nonprofit based in Chicago, will fund the first-ever library in the U.S. dedicated to preserving the legacy of Winston Churchill, which will open in stages between 2014 and 2015.

University President Steven Knapp, Provost Steven Lerman and Vice Provost for Libraries and University Librarian Geneva Henry spoke at the 30th International Churchill Conference this weekend.

By the end of the weekend, the project pulled in $300,000. That leaves a long way to go for the Churchill Centre, which has pledged to raise $8 million for facilities, collections and staff.

Still, Laurence Geller, the Churchill Centre’s chairman, said he is confident that they will meet the goal.

“I will drive GW crazy until every alumni that has ever heard of the name Winston Churchill will give some money,” Geller said.

The National Churchill Library and Center will provide public access to research archives, museum-quality displays and historical documents. It will also include a reading room and special events space on Gelman’s first floor.

Henry said once design plans and construction are complete, GW will look for a curator to collaborate closely with GW faculty on academic and public programming.

More than 1,000 volumes on Churchill studies from privately-held collections have already been donated to the center. The library will also include contemporary research and documentation, including biographies and histories.

This post was updated on Nov. 5, 2013 to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Stephen Joel Trachtenberg signed an agreement for the Churchill Library with Randolph Churchill when it was actually Laurence Geller. The Hatchet also misidentified the Churchill Library and Center to be housed in Gelman Library as the Churchill Centre, the nonprofit in Chicago. The Churchill Center, not centre, will hire a curator and fundraise $8 million. We regret these errors.

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