When Richard T. Hargreaves became President of Eastern Washington University in 1926, the school did not have its own campus library. Building one was a long-time dream of his, and became his most ambitious project. Construction on the campus's first library began in the late 1930's. Hargreaves never imagined the building would be named after him, but this is exactly what happened following his untimely death on March 4, 1939, halfway through construction. The building opened as Hargreaves Library in 1940.
Hargreaves Hall remained EWU's campus library until a 1960's remodel that turned it into a classroom hall. The rebuild had the unfortunate effect of covering over the building's original skylights and decorative ceilings. The quality of the newly-installed classrooms was also relatively poor. Another remodeling completed in 2009 restored Hargreaves' historic features and upgraded its classrooms to modern technological standards.