Built in 1928-1929, Levering Hall is named in honor of Eugene Levering, a local banker. Levering, who served as a trustee for Johns Hopkins University from 1898 to 1928, donated the funds to build a YMCA on land provided by Johns Hopkins University.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Levering Hall on the Homewood Campus of Johns Hopkins University served as an important site of interracial Civil Rights organizing and activism. In 1953, Chester Wickwire accepted a position as the executive secretary of the campus YMCA and the chaplain for the university. At Levering Hall, Wickwire provided “a haven for liberals on an otherwise conservative campus” and ran “ran various student life programs such as concerts, dances, and movie screenings while simultaneously organizing political discussions about civil rights, pacifism, the Cold War, and Vietnam.” Wickwire himself was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement and helped support student activists.
In a 2006 oral history, Wickwire described the culture of discrimination and how, beginning in 1959, he sought to “change Hopkins, desegregate it” by organizing performances by jazz and rock musicians that appealed to interracial audiences including Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus, Joan Baez, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Mothers of Invention. In his efforts to end segregation on the Hopkins campus, Wickwire recalled: “Jazz helped us.”
Johns Hopkins University students and faculty played a variety of roles in local Civil Rights activism. In the late 1960s, Dr. Peter Rossi, from the Johns Hopkins University Social Relations Department and Rev. Chester Wickwire both joined the largely white Baltimore Committee for Political Freedom “formed because of fear that the local police were planning to assassinate Black Panther Party leaders in the city”. Students from Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College, and Morgan State College participated in the Emergency Rehabilitation Assistance Project (ERAP) of the local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). According to Rhonda Williams, the organizers of ERAP were “hoping to build an ‘interracial movement’ by galvanizing poor people at the grassroots around issues such as housing, schools, medical care, and food insecurity.”
In 1969, Johns Hopkins University purchased the building from the YMCA and remodeled the building as a student union. Today, the building includes the offices of the Center for Social Concern founded in 1992 to promote student volunteerism and community engagement.