Burton & Garran Hall was, as the name suggests, originally two separate Halls. Burton Hall was established as a fully catered Hall of Residence in 1965. It was named after Professor Herbert 'Joe' Burton CBE (1900-1983), a Queenslander and Rhodes Scholar (1922). During his lifetime Burton played an active role in Australian tertiary education, holding numerous university teaching roles. In 1949, Burton was appointed Principal and Professor of Economic History at Canberra University College. When the college became the Australian National University in 1960, Burton was made Principal of the School of General Studies, a position he retained until his retirement in 1965. As a beneficiary of Professor Burton's will, the Hall received books, furniture and a substantial bequest for the provision of student bursaries.
Garran Hall, also established in 1965, was named after Sir Robert Randolph Garran (1867-1957) in recognition of his contributions to university education and to the development of Canberra. Along with a distinguished career in government, Garran is remembered for his devotion to Canberra. Garran found it 'unthinkable' that there should not be a university in Canberra; what he prophetically called a 'National University at Canberra'. He was able to canvas enough support to establish Canberra University College, chairing the new University's Council from 1930 to 1953. Garran also served on the Interim Council of the Australian National University from 1946 to 1951; becoming the University's first graduate when he was awarded an honorary law doctorate. In 1983, the two Halls combined to become Burton & Garran Hall.