We Shall Find a Way in 1893 (40 Weeks To Go)

By Kiera Reilly, C’93

We shall find a way, or we shall make one!

A famous phrase seen and referenced often at Penn. You may recognize the phrase, or the phrase in its original Latin, Inveniemus viam aut faciemus. But do you remember where you have seen this written on campus?

It is on the arch of the Class of 1893 gate that straddles the walkway between Houston Hall and Williams Hall. How fitting that a Penn class that graduated 100 years before us (the original Penn ’93), is responsible for enshrining this quote on campus.

The Penn Current featured a story of the gate in April, and I knew we had to share more about this gate with our class in the countdown to our reunion year. The old photo below shows College Hall in the background. Houston Hall is to the right of the gate, and Williams Hall is the building that is now to the left.

Class of 1893 gate university of pennsylvania, photo from University Archives #93tothe25th

The Class of 1893 Gate – Photo Credit University Archives and Records Center. The latin inscription across the arch translates to, “We will find a way or we shall make one.”

From the Current article:

Marking an entrance into campus from Spruce Street, and tucked between Houston and Williams halls, sits the Class of 1893 Memorial Gate. Designed by two members of the class—Elliston P. Bissell and William C. Hays—the gate has a brick and terracotta base with arched ironwork that spells out the class motto in Latin: Inveniemus viam aut faciemus. (This translates to mean “We will find a way or we shall make one.”)


Bissell and Hays were part of the first class in Penn’s School of Architecture, and designed the gate in 1900. Hays, in fact, was already familiar with sketching ideas for campus structures: He won first place in the competition to design a student union for Penn, Houston Hall. (Milton Bennett Medary, Jr. won second place and the two designs were combined, with Medary’s design being the exterior.) In 1904, Hays took a position at the University of California and, over the years, worked as architect and consulting architect on many of that university’s buildings on the Davis, San Francisco, and Berkeley campuses. After the San Francisco fire of 1906, Hays was on the team that supervised the rebuilding of much of the destroyed city.

After graduation, Bissell worked first with the firm Cope and Stewardson, and then opened his own firm, Bissell and Sinkler, where he worked until his retirement in 1936. In his career, Bissell helped to restore buildings in Independence Square, designed residential buildings in Gloucester, N.J., and Chester, Pa., and helped to restore Elfreth’s Alley and estates in Germantown. For years, Bissell was also a member of the Committee for the Preservation of Historic Monuments and a chairman of a state survey of historic buildings.

For more information about this and other historical aspects of Penn, visit the University Archives website.

And as Paul Harvey might say, “now you know the rest of the story!”

Penn Class of 1993 25th Reunion Countdown

The weekend of August 4 – 5, 2017, marked 40 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 14, 2018)!

Join us we count down the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us upenn1993@gmail.com!
  • Join our reunion committee – email Lisa Grabelle at lisagrabelle@yahoo.com.
  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

Important hotel update! Overwhelming response from our great class has sold out the Downtown Marriott Class of 1993 room block for Saturday night. There are alternative hotels. We recommend booking ASAP! Please see our class website for additional details.


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Filed under 25th Reunion, Class of 1993, Kiera R.

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