Tag Archives: Archives

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.

Remember Penn

The University Archives Digital Image Collection, available through the Penn library system, allows you to pull up photos from yesteryear, including ones from alumni events. I love old photos–I love the clothes and the hair styles and wondering what happened to the people in the pictures.  I love that you can also search for particular photos. Here’s  one what a search for  “homecoming” yielded for me (btw, save the date for this year’s Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture,  November 4-6, 2011. Also, we again face the Princeton Tigers this Homecoming Weekend).

This football guide book was for the game on October 22, 1966.

Artist: Louise Day, October 22, 1966

And here’s the game book from November 2, 1957:

Artist: Robert Foster

Finally, one from November 15, 1952.

This photo was taken a Alumni Day, 1952. I imagine that one of the woman is saying to the other, “Oh, no, Margie, this t-shirt certainly won’t be too small on you.” If you can think of a better caption, please send it along.

Photographer: Mike Pearlman, 1952


Filed under Aimee L., Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Memories of Penn

Penn on the Move

Author: Colin Hennessy

Have you ever wondered what Penn looked like 100 years ago or even 200 years ago? When you work at or attend one of the oldest institutions in the country, you can’t help but image what campus was like in the days of our founder, Benjamin Franklin.

Historical Drawing of Campus at Fourth and Arch in Old City

Fortunately, this Penn staffer had the opportunity to spend some time with the University archivist to get the inside story on Penn’s campus and its remarkable transformation over the years. As a non-native Philadelphian, I did not know that Penn’s history starts not in West Philadelphia, but rather at Fourth and Arch in Old City. A campus comprised of the Academy /College Building, built in 1740, with the dormitory following in 1762.

College Hall

It wasn’t until the 1870’s that Penn made the move to West Philadelphia. Thanks to some forward-thinking land acquisitions, Penn’s trustees began to build the iconic structures that represent Penn today. Beginning with College Hall in 1871, Cohen Hall, and buildings of the now medical complex, Penn’s infrastructure quickly took root.

Over the next 100 years, roads through campus would be closed, trolleys would go underground, and Penn would continue to reach to the West and North. The history of Penn’s physical plant illustrates a fascinating story of land use and resource stewardship as this campus rests on what was once “the poor house” of Philadelphia.

Campus Map, 1878

For more information about the history of Penn’s campus, complete with photos and commentary, visit the website of the University Archives.

For now, as you walk through campus, take a moment to ponder how much has changed and reflect on what Penn may look like 100 years from now as Penn continues to be on the move.

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Filed under Colin H., Historical, Library