Beyond the Arboretum, down the part of Shortlidge Road that doesn’t go through the heart of campus, lies the historic Schreyer House. When Dr. Eric Barron was officially announced as the 18th President of Penn State, it was enumerated through his contract that the University would provide housing during his term in the form of the Schreyer House, which has remained empty since Graham Spanier’s departure two years ago.
The Schreyer House was established as the president’s residence on May 12, 1995, and named to honor the board chairman at the time, William A. Schreyer, of Honors College fame. The Tudor-style house sits on a 76-acre property and originally served as a summer home for H. Walton Mitchell when it was built in 1928. Mitchell, a three-term judge in Allegheny County, was an 1890 Penn State graduate and was the first alumnus to be elected to Penn State’s Board of Trustees.
In 1985, Mitchell’s granddaughters sold the house and surrounding land to Penn State. In 1995, when the house was 67 years old, it underwent a renovation funded primarily by a $1 million gift from the Schreyers. Upon the completion of the construction, University President Graham Spanier moved into the house, marking the first time the university president had lived on campus since 197o before it was moved because of the anti-war riots (President Eric Walker was the last to live at the University House). In a subsequent Board of Trustees meeting, the board authorized the sale of the existing presidential residence three miles south of campus on Kennard Road since the University no longer needed it with the Schreyer House renovated and operational.
The Schreyer House was cheaper to own and operate than the Kennard Road residence — it had three additional bedrooms plus more parking and easier access for those with disabilities. The Schreyer House, originally known as Lisnaward on the Mitchell Estate, also serves as a venue for hosting and entertaining University guests, boasting nearly 10,000 square feet of space.
Apart from various open houses and university functions, Schreyer House has remained empty in the recent years. Dr. Barron is set to make Penn State history this May as the 18th university president, but also the second ever to live in the renovated Schreyer House.
Here are some photos of the property from Penn State spokesman Bill Zimmerman: