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Architectural Anachronisms

As I walk around campus, the buildings I enjoy most are the ones that seem out of place. It’s no coincidence that on our fairly modern campus, the buildings that seem out of place are often the oldest too. We’ve captured some of our favorites for you. (The cottages were especially fun for us to post, because at this point what are we but a cottage company?)

First, we have Old Main, which is in fact not the oldest building on campus. Old Main is a beautiful building. Its symmetric front facade evokes a feeling of power through the use of bold Corinthian columns.

Check out some of our other favorites after the jump.

It’s hard to classify our next selection as either old or modern. The original President’s house, called the University House, was built in 1864 for President Pugh, but in 2000 it was incorporated into the construction of the modern Hintz Family Alumni Center. The structure is tucked into the south-western corner of campus, near the Hammond Building.

Next, we have a set of three faculty cottages. According to the Penn State Historical Marker index,

Pine (1888), Spruce (1889), and Birch (1915) are reminders of an earlier era in Penn State’s history, when a fledgeling institution offered on-campus residences as part of faculty compensation, and when students and teachers mingled in a family-like setting. Later used for sorority housing and academic and administrative purposes.

Spruce is on the left and Pine is on the right.

There is a similar building next to the library, the Ihlseng Cottage. Though it was built in 1898, it was only named after the first dean of the now defunct school of mines in 1957. Ihlseng is now the home of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

Our final building is Old Botany. Old Botany, built in 1887, is the oldest building that has not had its exterior significantly modified. The historical marker says that the architecture is that of Richardsonian Romanesque, a style exemplified by Trinity Church in Boston. Old Botany is now the home of the Science, Technology, and Society program.

About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.


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