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about a year ago

The Names Behind Each East Residence Hall

East Halls, Penn State University Park

East Halls is huge — the most densely inhabited dorm area in North America, type of huge.  If you’re a Penn State student, alum, or fan, chances are you have lived, and walked past East Halls at some point (or at least stopped in Findlay commons for lunch).

Although not celebrated for its small rooms and distance from the center of campus, many students, including myself, have discovered several of their best friends in good ol’ East.

But, we’ve been thinking… Who are those famous East residence halls named after? Following some research, we found answers:

  • Bigler Hall – Named after William Bigler, the 12th Governor of Pennsylvania (1852-1855). He created the Clearfield Democrat, a political newspaper, when he was just 19 years old. After his term as governor, he served as a U.S. Senator.
  • Brumbaugh Hall – Named after Martin Brumbaugh, the 26th Governor of Pennsylvania (1915-1919). This Pacifist Republican led Pennsylvania through World War I.
  • Curtin Hall – Named after Andrew Curtin, the 15th Governor of Pennsylvania (1861-1867). Hailing from nearby Bellefonte, Curtin led Pennsylvania through the Civil War, signing various bills to finance the Union’s military efforts. After his term in office, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him as the US Ambassador to Russia in 1869.
  • Fisher Hall - Named after John Fisher, 29th Governor of Pennsylvania (1927-1931). Fisher was known as quite a productive Governor, focusing on public works and minimizing the waste of tax dollars. Under his guidance, Pennsylvania began using voting machines to reduce future voter fraud.
  • Geary Hall – Named after John Geary, 16th Governor of Pennsylvania (1867-1873). Geary was actually the Governor of two states, serving in Kansas for six months in 1856-1857 and Pennsylvania from 1867-1873. He was PA’s tallest Governor standing at 6’ 5”. Geary also sported an unconventional, but fantastic beard.
  • Hastings Hall – Named after Daniel Hastings, 21st Governor of Pennsylvania (1895-1899). During the outbreak of the Civil War, Hastings made several attempts to run off and join the Union army when he was just 12 years old. Just six years later, at the age of 18, he was elected principal of Bellefonte High School. Hastings vaulted to statewide prominence during the Johnstown Flood of 1899 when he immediately assembled a team to head to the scene of the disaster. As governor, he founded the State Game Commission in 1895.
  • McKean Hall – Named after Thomas McKean, the 2nd Governor of Pennsylvania (1799-1808). This Pennsylvanian was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and helped draft Articles of Confederation — he even briefly served as the president of Continental Congress in 1781. As a three-term governor, McKean was known for expanding free education statewide.
  • Packer Hall – Named after William Packer, 14th Governor of Pennsylvania (1858-1861). Although his father died when Packer was seven, he dove right into the newspaper business at the Bellefonte Patriot when he was a teenager. Packer fully supported the establishment of the public school system.
  • Pennypacker Hall – Named after Samuel Pennypacker, the 23rd Governor of Pennsylvania (1903-1907). During his tenure, he signed the Child Labor Act of 1905, which set a minimum working age for the youth, and created the Pennsylvania State Police.
  • Pinchot Hall – Named after Gifford Pinchot, 28th Governor of Pennsylvania (1923-1927). This Yale graduate was appointed Chief of Forestry by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. In his time as governor, Pinchot reorganized state government and focused of the regulation of electric companies.
  • Snyder Hall – Named after Simon Snyder, the 3rd Governor of Pennsylvania (1808-1817). Snyder ordered  Pennsylvania’s mobilization during the War of 1812 and moved the state’s capital from Lancaster to Harrisburg.
  • Sproul Hall – Named after William Sproul, the 27th Governor of Pennsylvania (1919-1923). As a state senator, Sproul sponsored his own legislative bill, the Sproul Act, which allowed Pennsylvania to create the state’s road system. He has a state forest named after him about 25 miles northeast of State College.
  • Stone Hall - Named after William Stone, the 22nd Governor of Pennsylvania (1899-1903). When Stone was 17, he ran away to join a volunteer army during the Civil War. During his term at the turn of the 20th century, he eliminated three million dollars worth of state debt.
  • Stuart Hall – Named after Edwin Stuart, the 24th Governor of Pennsylvania (1907-1911). This Philadelphia native expanded the Pennsylvania’s highway system and signed the Ice Cream Law, which defended the public against the mislabeling of consumer products.
  • Tener HallNamed after John Tener, the 25th Governor of Pennsylvania (1911-1915). Tener was a professional baseball player (pitcher and outfielder) for a few years, and ended with a 4.30 career ERA before retiring in 1890. He reformed the public school system and created the Public Service Commission, which regulated utilities and transportation services.

Stay tuned for our continued series to see who’s behind the naming of the West, North, South, and Pollock residence halls.

Have fond memories of one of these dorms? Let us know in the comments!

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