Initially, the Pauliner Church was part of a Dominican monastery founded in Göttingen in 1294. It represents an architectural style typical of the mendicant orders. In 1529, in the wake of the Reformation, the first Lutheran services were held in the Pauliner Church, since it was the largest church in town. Between 1542 and 1733, a newly founded secondary school, the so-called Paedagogium, was located in the building of the former monastery.
In 1733, Prince-Elector Georg August of Brunswick-Lüneburg, who, as George II, was also King of Great Britain and Ireland, decided to found a regional university in Göttingen. One year later, in 1734, the university library was set up in a hall belonging to the former monastery. Three years later, the ceremonial opening of Göttingen University took place in the Pauliner Church. The university also had its home in the former monastery, and the Pauliner Church went on to be used as the university church and as a venue for university events.
The visit of King George II to the Pauliner Church on 1 August 1748.
Hanoverian state minister and curator of Göttingen University Gerlach Adolph von Münchhausen (1688-1770) was a generous supporter of the library. On this basis, the university librarians Johann Matthias Gesner (1691-1761) und Christian Gottlob Heyne (1729-1812) were in a position to acquire a uniquely wide range of research literature. The library soon became famous as well for its liberal lending policies.
The fast-growing number of books repeatedly led to shortages of space, and the library soon spread throughout the whole building. In 1812, the newly-created upper storey of the Pauliner Church became part of the library. Hosting the library's historical holdings, it came to be known as the Historical Hall. In addition to books, busts of famous Göttingen scholars and plaster casts of antique sculptures were put up here. This beautiful combination of Gothic architecture and classicism is documented in many engravings and descriptions, such as in “The Harz Journey” written by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), who read law at Göttingen University and was an enthusiastic user of its library.
During the Second World War, in 1944, the Pauliner Church was largely destroyed, while most of the library's books survived, having been safely deposited in the vault.
On 24 November 1944, the Pauliner Church was largely destroyed in an air raid.
After the War, the number of students at Göttingen University increased dramatically. Following its reconstruction, the Pauliner Church was therefore used as a lecture hall in the 1960s. After that, it housed library catalogues before they were moved to the newly built Central Library in 1992.
From 2000 to 2006, the whole of the Historical Building was refurbished. Careful attention was paid to the reconstruction of the Historical Hall in the Pauliner Church on the basis of historical depictions. After only six months of work, the Historical Hall was re-opened in its former guise on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition “Gutenberg and his impact”.
The Pauliner Church after its renovation in 2000.
Since then, the Historical Hall has provided a worthy setting for exhibitions as well as for scientific and cultural events.