Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, October 25, 2000

Alumnus George Will donates villa to Stanford-in-Berlin


Stanford-in-Berlin students now can really call their program center "home" thanks to German alumnus George Will, Class of 1955, who has donated the building to the university, says Pam McNaughton, assistant director of the Overseas Studies Program.

Designed by the Berlin architect Hermann Muthesius and built in 1912, "Haus Cramer" is a registered architectural landmark near the Free University of Berlin. It was named after the Cramers, a Jewish family that built and lived in it until 1933, when they left for the United States just after Adolf Hitler came to power. A gas explosion destroyed most of the building in the 1950s, and it remained in ruins for many years. In the 1970s, Julius Posener, an architectural historian, stopped the house from being razed. The government of Berlin stepped in to save the property, which in 1976 became the Stanford Study Center. Major historical renovation took place in 1988 and a subterranean library annex was added in 1996, both with support from the State Lottery Foundation of Berlin.

The center houses classrooms, libraries, kitchens, lounges, an exercise room and the program's administrative offices. In 1994, Charlotte Cramer of New York donated a 1928 painting by Leo von Koenig from the estate of her parents -- a portrait of her from the time she lived in the house. She also has sponsored poetry readings at Stanford-in-Berlin since 1998.

Will's gift of the villa's purchase was augmented with support from the President's Fund, says McNaughton.