When the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, decided to found a university east of the Mississippi River, Atlanta offered the church $500,000 and the use of Wesley Memorial Church and Wesley Memorial Hospital. As deliberations to choose the site were under way, Asa Candler, owner of the Coca-Cola Company, donated $1 million to enable the transformation of Emory College into Emory University. He was a long-time member of Emory's Board of Trustees; his brother Warren Candler was a president of Emory College and the first chancellor of Emory University. Letters from 1914-1915 in the Warren Candler Papers include many suggestions for names for the new university. Included among them, ironically, was "Coke" -- honoring the Methodist clergyman Thomas Coke. At the meeting where the letter was read, Atlanta was chosen as the university's location, and Bishop Warren Candler was named chancellor.
The School of Theology opened at Wesley Memorial Church in September 1914. In February 1915 it was named the Candler School of Theology in honor of Bishop Candler.
In September the Lamar College of Law, named for alumnus L.Q.C. Lamar, was established. The law college and Candler School of Theology moved into the first two academic buildings completed on the Druid Hills campus.
The Coca-Cola Company was sold in 1919 to a group of investors led by Atlanta businessman Ernest Woodruff, whose son, Robert Winship Woodruff, guided the company for three decades, as president and chairman, (1923-55). In 1979 Robert Woodruff and his brother George made a gift of approximately $105 million, which, at the time, was the largest single gift to a single educational institution in the nation's history.
In 1922, as Warren Candler was relinquishing administrative control of the University, the theology school decided to allow the registration of women to prepare them for Christian service in domestic and foreign mission fields.
The school began to outgrow existing buildings and moved into Bishops Hall in 1957.
The purchase of the Hartford Collection of theological books and manuscripts in 1975 doubled the size of the Pitts Theology Library's holdings.
Designed by New York architect Paul Rudolph (whose father, Keener Rudolph, was a member of Candler's first graduating class in 1915), Cannon Chapel broke ground in August 1979. President Jimmy Carter spoke at the ceremony. The Chapel was officially consecrated in September 1981.
Since then the chapel has hosted several seminal events in Emory history, including President Bill Clinton’s economic summit in 1995, the Dalai Lama’s launching of the Emory/Drepung Loseling affiliation in Tibetan studies (also in 1995), and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s meeting and dialogue with Rajmohan Gandhi, to name a few. It also has become, under the guidance of Marcy Assistant Dean of Worship Barbara Day Miller, a central space of worship and faith for everyone in the University community. (from Emory Report September 17, 2001)
Cannon Chapel celebrates its 20th birthday the week of September 11, even in the wake of the national tragedy that holds Emory, along with the rest of the country, in a grip of sadness. But, according to Candler School of Theology Dean Russell Richey, the horror that was Sept. 11, 2001, and its aftermath afforded Emory the opportunity to learn just how crucial a space Cannon has become.
"In this academic year, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Cannon Chapel; we celebrate its centrality in the life of Candler; we celebrate its elasticity; we celebrate its place in Emory worship; we celebrate its capacity to accommodate the arts," Richey said. "All those aspects or dimensions of its utility came into expression on September 11."
"The Candler community faculty, staff, students followed the tragic events of the day together in Brooks Commons," Richey continued. "At 11 a.m., we convened for worship. In word, sacrament and music, we found solace. Before and after the service, individuals resorted to the sanctuary and side chapel for prayer. After the 5 p.m. Glenn service, Emory students resorted to Brooks for quiet conversation and refreshments. On occasions of such sorrow but also on more joyous occasions, Cannon Chapel has a central place in Candler's life and in Emory's." (from Emory Report September 17, 2001)
Dr. Jan Love is installed as the ninth dean of Candler School of Theology. Love is the first woman to serve as Dean of Candler.
On September 25, 2008, Candler dedicated Phase I of its new building, which provides 65,000 square feet for faculty and administrative offices, state-of-the-art classrooms, and the University’s Ethics Center. The building is one of the newest “green” buildings on Emory’s campus, awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver-level certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Emory now has more square feet of LEED-certified building space than any other campus in America. Students, faculty, and staff alike enjoy the new building’s communal gathering space, inspiring art, natural light, and classrooms equipped with “smart” technology.