History of Robinson Library

The Robinson Library stands as a monument to the commitment of St. Louis U. High to the City of St. Louis, as well as Dr. James Robinson's commitment to SLUH.

A special issue of the Prep News in April 1972 commemorated the construction of a new SLUH library. "Quite modish in appearance and very fetching," it replaced the old library located on the second floor in the northwest corridor of the school building. This major improvement to the school physical plant confirmed the SLUH decision to remain in the city of St. Louis while many other institutions moved to the suburbs. Construction of the library was financed by contributions from alumni, the Fathers and Mothers Clubs, the Student Council, the proceeds from two Cashbahs, and the Backer Endowment.

In 1983, the library was formally named in honor of Dr. James Robinson '32, a longtime SLUH faculty member and school benefactor. Robinson taught history at SLUH for 42 years. He was a pioneer in bringing the SLU 1818 college credit program to the Social Studies Department at SLUH, starting in 1962, Robinson was also a baseball scout for the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox, and he coached baseball at SLUH for many years.

In November 1981, Robinson won $124,019 in the Illinois lottery. He decided to donate the majority of the money to SLUH. Robinson had long been saving money to fulfill his dream of establishing a scholarship at SLUH in his mother's name. Combining his lottery winnings with his savings, he established five scholarships. The next year, not long after Robinson's windfall, he did not appear at school one morning. He had not missed a day of work in his career, save for four years spent serving in World War II. One of Robinson's colleagues traveled to his home and found that he had died. In his will, Robinson left his estate to various charities, with a large portion going to SLUH.  Fr. Cummings, SLUH president, asked alumni to match this bequest, creating a teacher endowment fund to underwrite sabbaticals and other professional-development activities.

Fr. Cummings, though grateful for Robinson's generosity, noted that "his major investment in the school was to educate four decades of students. He never missed an alumni reunion. That's why I'll miss him the most. He was a living embodiment of the tradition and history of the school."

(excerpted with edits from To God, With Gratitude: 200 Years of SLUH by Frank Kovarik '94)