Newport Beach City Council Approves Library Lecture Hall Naming Donations

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Rendering of the new Library Lecture Hall

The Newport Beach Public Library Foundation has received a commitment from Elizabeth Stahr for a generous contribution to name the renovated and expanded courtyard of the Newport Beach Public Library Lecture Hall, now named Witte Hall.

The courtyard will be the Stahr Courtyard and will be recognized as such with a multi-layered sign panel in the courtyard.

The Foundation has also received a commitment from Roy B. Woolsey to name the lobby of Witte Hall in honor of his parents, Louise and Roy Woolsey. The Lobby will be named the Louise and Roy Woolsey Memorial Lobby with a multi-layered signage on the lobby wall.

The Newport Beach City Council approved the Naming Rights Agreements at its Council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022.

Witte Hall will be nearly 10,000 square feet, technologically advanced, with tiered seating for 299 guests. Located next to the Central Library, the Witte Hall will also include an expanded courtyard, now the Stahr Courtyard, for pre- and post- events, and a reconfiguration of the Library parking lot.

Elizabeth Stahr and her late husband John Stahr were the driving force behind the construction of the Central Library which opened in 1994. The Central Library children’s area is named the Stahr Children’s Room in honor of their vision and leadership.

A Newport Beach Public Library visitor walks through the bamboo courtyard, near the future site of the proposed lecture hall facility. File photo by Sara Hall

The Stahrs were also the Founders of the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation and Elizabeth has been a continuing guiding light for the Foundation. Her son Walter Stahr, an attorney and acclaimed biographer, now serves on the Board of the Foundation.

“My late husband John and I were proud, thirty years ago now, to raise the money to build the Newport Beach Central Library,” said Elizabeth Stahr, who was named Newport Beach Citizen of the Year in 2016 along with her husband John. “Although John is no longer with us, I am honored to continue that tradition, in our joint names, to help build the new lecture hall.”

Louise and Roy Woolsey were longtime residents of Newport Beach, and both were very active in civic and community organizations. Louise was a strong supporter of libraries, both the Newport Beach Public Library and the UCI Library. Roy was senior attorney in the Woolsey, Angelo and Thatcher law firm. An avid sailor, he was a former Commodore of the Lido Isle Yacht Club, establishing the Roy Woolsey regatta at the Lido Isle Yacht Club that is still being held. Roy passed away in 2007 and Louise in 2015.

“My parents were both very philanthropic; my Father a long-time member of the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club and my Mother active in a number of charities, including supporting the Newport Beach Library, where the names “Louise and Roy Woolsey” appear on the wall at the Crean Mariners Branch Library,” said Roy B. Woolsey. “Given that their lives in Newport Beach were so full of happiness and success, I felt they should have a legacy here. When the opportunity arose to name the lobby of the new Library Lecture Hall in their memory, it seemed a natural and appropriate legacy given their interest in the library and philanthropy.”

View from stage of the Lecture Hall

The City and the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation have entered into an agreement in which the City will be contributing half of the cost of construction of the Hall and the Foundation will fundraise for the remainder. It is anticipated that the groundbreaking for the new Hall will be in 2023 with the Grand Opening in 2024.

Naming opportunities are still available for the Library Lecture Hall, now Witte Hall. Major donors will have permanent recognition on the Donor Wall in the Louise and Roy Woolsey Memorial Lobby at Witte Hall and at Grand Opening events.

For more information contact Jerold D Kappel, Chief Executive Officer of the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation, at (949) 717-3890 or [email protected].

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