My Top Penn List: National Register of Historic Places on Campus

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

As a member of the GAN alumni network staff, I contribute periodically to the Did You Know?, the weekly Penn update to our Regional Alumni Club Leadership.  We review Penn news, read local newspapers, scan recent and upcoming news magazine shows and more for the leads for our stories that we start off with our stylized phrase: “Did You Know…”, like in the following:

Did you know… that Philadelphia is the site of one of only 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the US? Independence Hall was bestowed this honor since it was “directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.” Obviously the “works of outstanding universal significance” are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, all of which have influenced lawmakers, politicians and governmental charters around the world.

Independence Hall

I bring this up because I was recently watching Anderson Cooper 360° and someone made a passing reference to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I figured that I should read up more on World Heritage Sites, having been to a few like the above mentioned Independence Hall, Great Barrier Reef and Delos.  Since I was using Wikipedia for my research, I searched on so many links, and, as was mentioned in a prior entry, I ended up on an interesting reading journey. I eventually landed on the entry on the National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania from my starting point of the Independence Hall Wikipedia article.

Independence Hall is the centerpiece of the Independence National Historical Park, a United States National Historical Park.  This NHP, in turn, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Did you know what else is on this register? The University of Pennsylvania Campus Historic District.  This is a significant part of campus is bounded by portions of Woodland and Hamilton Walks, Convention Boulevard,  32nd, Walnut, 36th, Spruce, and 39th Streets. This area comprised of 28 contributing properties.

The Fisher Fine Arts Library, Interior (number 9)

Here are my favorite ten historic contributing properties:

10.          The Quadrangle (a.k.a. University Dormitories) – 1895-1910. The popular dormitory building just had to be on my list.

9.            The Fisher Fine Arts Library (a.k.a. Furness Library) – 1888-1891, and Duhring Wing, 1914-1915. This library is one of the pure architectural gems on campus designed by Frank Furness.

8.            Irvine Auditorium – 1926-1928.  Though there is a false story about the blueprints being an alumnus’s failed thesis, this building holds a grandiose charm.

Towne Building (number 3)

7.            Veterinary School and Hospital – 1906, 1912. Another quadrangular historic building of note on Penn’s campus that hosts Pennsylvania’s only veterinary school (also mentioned in yesterday‘s post).

6.            Richards Medical Research Laboratories – 1964. Like Furness, the Richard Labs are notable for having a famous designer, Louis Kahn.

5.            University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (a.k.a. University Museum) – 1895-1899; additions, 1912, 1929, 1979, 2002. The original proposal for the museum had planned for the building to be 3 times its size, but it was

250 S. 36th Street, "The Castle" (number 2)

4.            Franklin Field – 1904, 1925. The first double tiered collegiate stadium needs to be on this list.

3.            Towne Building – 1903. The astronomy class that I had in this building always had a feel of being the stereotypical Ivy League setting, so I needed to include the building.

2.            250 S. 36th Street (a.k.a. “The Castle” -Tau chapter of Psi Upsilon Fraternity) – 1897–1899. The lead house on Locust Walk dominates many traditional shots to demonstrate college life.

Irvine Auditorium, Interior (number 8)

1.            College Hall – 1871-1872. The oldest building on the register which house the Office of the President and of the Secretary is the administrative and symbol heart of campus.

An honorable mention goes to the building that houses Alumni Relations, E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House (aka Delta Tau Delta), 1914.

College Hall (number 1)

For a complete list of all 28 buildings, visit Wikipedia’s University of Pennsylvania Campus Historic District entry.



Filed under Alumni Perspective, Casey R., Historical, Philadelphia, Top Ten

4 responses to “My Top Penn List: National Register of Historic Places on Campus

  1. Pingback: My Top Penn List: The Year of Did You Know… in Review | Frankly Penn

  2. Pingback: My Top Penn List: I <3 Penn | Frankly Penn

  3. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a top notch article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

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