University of Pennsylvania Campus Historic District

Roughly bounded by Hamilton Walk, South St., 32nd St., Walnut St., 36th St., Spruce St., 39th St.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places December 28, 1978


Universities situated in the heart of a large urban center lose some of their “ivory tower” quiet to the infringement of hotels, traffic, mega-complexes and the internal need to build more and larger facilities. Despite these pressures from without and within, there is a core to the large University of Pennsylvania Campus that, once entered takes the visitor back a century or so to historically designed buildings of a scale and bravura which has permitted the buildings, trees, grass and pedestrian movement to retain their balance. The walks and buildings nominated here were the backways, the tree-lined alleys, of the great Woodland Avenue, the artery of the 19th century campus (see maps from 1914 and 1937). The Avenue has been removed from the official city map but its indelible presence can still be sensed from the profile of the dormitories, the Wistar Institute and the plucky little fraternity at 34th and Walnut (now the Institute of Environmental studies).

Map of the University of Pennsylvania Campus in 1914. From the book University of Pennsylvania: Its History, Traditions, Buildings and Memorials: A Guide for Visitors, by George E. Nitszche (1914). This image is taken from a photocopy provided by the National Register for Historic Places.
Map of the University of Pennsylvania Campus in 1937. From the book Philadelphia: A Guide to the Nation’s Birthplace, by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration. page 586.

Hamilton Walk brought together the sprawling Jacobethan designed dormitories along its north side with the medical and science buildings (Veterinary, Biology, Medicine) designed in an English Gothic mode on the south, creating a still unblemished back street for the impressive dormitory facade that faced on Woodland.

The second walkway (Locust Walk) was the heart of the original university campus at the intersection of Woodland and Locust (both streets are now inoperative). This core contains two buildings from the 1870’s by T. W. Richards in an adapted Italian Gothic style. The core had well-designed buildings added to it through the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the work of Frank Furness (Library), Horace Trumbauer (Auditorium), and Frank Miles Day (Student Union). As a whole, the core of the campus is a textbook display of the rich variations on the “Collegiate Gothic.”

Moving further east, Smith Walk is a 1890’s walk exhibiting the fine work of Cope and Stewardson along with Philadelphia architects, Collins and Autenreich and Edgar Seeler, whose work normally did not include collegiate designs.

Rounding out the nominated campus district is the recreational facilities center designed in most part by Frank Miles Day and Brother or his firm of Day and Klauder. To the west of the recreational area, the University Museum graces an awkward and ungraceful corner in its 12th century North Italian splendor, the work of three architectural firms–Wilson Eyre, Jr., Cope and Stewardson, and Frank Miles Day and Brother.

Since World War II, the University of Pennsylvania has grown to the west and north so that much of what the visitor sees at first glance is mainly tall, post W.W. II concrete and brick blocks. But the University has protected deep in that vast network of buildings a core of priceless architectural design. It is that core that defines the University of Pennsylvania Campus Historic District.


1. Veterinary School and Hospital (1906, 1912, designed by Cope and Stewardson). The Veterinary School is designed in an English Gothic style from 17th century precedents. The building complex is constructed around a square courtyard, approximately 260′ by 210′. The structure is of hard burnt brick with limestone trim and with a roof of green slate.

2. Zoological Laboratory now, Leidy Laboratory of Biology (1910, designed by Cope and Stewardson). The Zoological Labs are designed in an English Gothic style adapted from 17th century precedents and in harmony with the Medical Building and most of the early 20th century campus structures. The labs are of hard burnt brick with Indiana limestone trim and is fireproof. The building is “T” shaped with the longer arm along Hamilton Walk (204′) and the shorter arm extending from the rear.

3. University Dormitories (1895–1910, designed by Cope and Stewardson). The University Dormitories are designed in an English Gothic style to suggest Oxford or Cambridge Universities. The southern quadrangle is in a Jacobethan style. The structure is of hard burnt brick with white sandstone trim. The complex is composed of stately towers, decorated entrances and archways, an arcaded terrace and landscaped courtyards. Originally the buildings were heated by steam and lighted with electricity. All the suites and double rooms and many of the single rooms have open fireplaces.

4. Richards Medical Research Building (1964, designed by Louis Kahn). The Richards Medical Research Building is one of a handful of executed works by the recently deceased architect, Louis I. Kahn. Designed as a series of windowless towers and floors of lighted laboratory spaces between the steel, concrete and brick faced structure has been evaluated already to be one of the most consequential buildings built since 1945.

5. Medical School (1904, 1928, designed by Cope and Stewardson). The building is a fireproof exterior of hard burnt brick and buff Indiana limestone, measuring 337′ along Hamilton Walk and 192′ deep, and 2 stories high. The 1928 extension added a diagonal wing to the west.

[Note: numbers 6 and 7 are not in the report furnished by the National Register]

8. University Museum (Wilson Eyre, Cope and Stewardson, and Frank Miles Day, 1895–1899; additions 1912, 1929; new wing Mitchell and Giurgola, 1971). The University Museum was a collaboration of several of the major architectural firms in Philadelphia. Designed in a 12th century northern Italian mode with wide mortar joints, terra cotta roof tiles and mosaic fragments of brick and marble. The N.W. section was began in 1897; the 2nd section with domed area begun 1912. Extensions of the gallery and round tower also begun at that time. Credit for design usually given to Wilson Eyre.

9. Franklin Field (Day & Klauder 1904; H: Trumbauer 1925). Franklin Field is an athletic field 714′ x 443′, horse-shoe shaped and double decked in steel and concrete, faced with red brick and trimmed in limestone. Huge arcades and buttresses line the three-sides supporting the stands.

10. Weightman Hall (Frank Miles Day 1904). Gymnasium facilities designed by Frank Miles Day in English Gothic style. The building is designed with a central portion and two square towers and wings in dark red brick and black headers in Flemish bond and trimmed in terra cotta and limestone. The building is fireproof with floors and columns of concrete.

11. Hutchinson Gym and Palestra (Day and Klauder 1926, 1928). Additional gymnasium facilities.

12. Moore School (Erskine and Morris 1909; addition 1957). The School of Electrical Engineering is an unpretentious brick building designed by Erskine and Morris.

13. Towne Building (Cope and Stewardson 1903). The Towne Engineering building is a broad, 3 story, Georgian structure of red brick and limestone with Roman Tuscan motifs at either end and fluted Ionic pilasters above the 1st story. The building is 300′ by 160′ with a 50′ square wing.

14. Hayden Hall (Edgar V. Seeler 1896). Hayden Hall is designed in a freely adapted 16th century Italian style of dark red and black brick laid in Flemish bond. Two stories high with large 2nd story, the building has two bastion-like towers at each end connected through a central section, in a dumb-bell shape.

15. John Harrison (Smith) Chemistry Lab (Collins and Autenreith 1886). Chemistry laboratory is a 3 story building designed in the Italian Renaissance style.

16. Morgan Laboratory of Physics (Cope and Stewardson 1892). (School of Nursing and Music Building) Morgan Laboratory was designed by Cope and Stewardson in the Italian Renaissance “Palazzo” style. The labs consist of two buildings, one 60′ x 80′; the other 67′ x 45′ with a 23′ x 49′ wing. The buildings are of red brick, 3 stories high with massive cornices.

17. Bennett Hall (Stewardson and Page 1925). Bennett Hall is a 20th century building in the English Collegiate style designed by Stewardson and Page.

18. Furness Library (Furness and Evans 1888–1891; Duhring Wing 1914–1915). The Library was designed by Furness, Evans and Co. in the personalized Victorian characterized by the work of Frank Furness. The Library is built in two sections–a tower of 951′ and amphitheatrical in shape and a glass covered stack 32′ x 110′. A wing was added to the end of the stacks section by Duhring in 1914–1915, a later addition extended the 34th Street side.

19. Irvine Auditorium (Horace Trumbauer 1926–1928). Irvine Auditorium is designed in a adaptive French Gothic style shaped like a massive pyramid culminating in a central tower with a slate roof and small spire. The exterior of the building is red brick and limestone. The interior walls are decorated in richly colored designs.

20. Houston Hall [William C. Hays and M. B. Medary (under Frank Miles Day) 1895]. Houston Hall is a 3 story English Gothic building of limestone, 150′ x 78′. The design was the work of two University of Pennsylvania students in competition (Hays–lst, Medary–2nd). The two designs were combined using Medary’s exterior. The design was developed and the work executed under Frank Miles Day.

21. College Hall (Thomas W. Richards 1871–1872). College Hall is one of the first West Philadelphia college buildings, the 3rd home of the College. Designed by Thomas W. Richards, of the University faculty in Italian Gothic style. The building is of green serpentine stone and sandstone trim, 256′ x 136′.

22. Logan Hall (Thomas W. Richards 1874). Logan Hall is one of the early college buildings designed by Professor Thomas W. Richards Logan Hall was styled in the Italian Gothic mode similar to College Hall, of green serpentine stone and sandstone trim. Logan was first used as the medical school, in 1904 as the Wharton School.

23. Wistar Institute (G. W. & W. D. Hewitt 1894, addition 1897). The Wistar Institute is the oldest biological institute in the country, founded by Isaac J. Wistar in 1892. The building of buff brick and light terra cotta is in a modified Renaissance design utilizing a mixed-bag classical vocabulary to decorate the utilitarian structure, particularly the 36th Street entrance.

24. Psi Upsilon (William D. Hewitt). Fraternity designed in a modified Collegiate style.

25. Phi Kappa Sigma (Bissell and Sinkler 1910). Fraternity designed in an adapted Renaissance style of limestone and brick.

26. Delta Upsilon (L. Kintzing 1913).

27. Delta Tau Delta (Bissell and Sinkler 1914).

28. Phi Delta Theta (Environmental Studies) (Oswald Shelly 1900). Fraternity designed in the English Gothic style of brick and limestone.


Most of the intrusions in the University of Pennsylvania Campus Historic District are additions and/or wings recently added to the already identified structures. Other non-historic structures include:

  • A. Veterinary Hospital Wing, 1964
  • B. Kaplan Wing (Biology Service Building)
  • C. Johnson Pavilion, 1969
  • D. Additions to Wistar Institute
  • E. Addition to University Museum, 1971
  • F. Chemistry Laboratories, 1970
  • G. Moore School Addition, 1957, 1966
  • H. Williams Building, 1972
  • I. Graduate School of Fine Arts, 1968
  • K. Hayden Hall Addition, 1968, 1972

Statement of Significance

The University of Pennsylvania was organized as a result of a pamphlet published by Benjamin Franklin in 1749 titled “Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania.” The “Academy” occupying the building of the Philadelphia Charity School (1740), opened in 1751. The original Academy building was located at 4th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia. A few years later a new charter created the Academy as the College of Philadelphia with the power to confer honorary and collegiate degrees. In 1791 a new charter created the University of the State of Pennsylvania. The University charter was the first in the United States to establish professional schools distinct from the college.

In 1802 the University moved from its 4th and Arch location to the “Presidential Mansion” at 9th and Chestnut. The mansion was to be presidential home and residence of George Washington while he was President. The building never served as his residence. This building was demolished in 1829 and two new university buildings were built on the same site and used by the university until 1872.

In 1872, the University moved to West Philadelphia, its present site. College Hall, Logan Hall and the main building of the University Hospital were constructed immediately following the purchase of the site. These buildings were designed by Thomas W. Richards, a professor of Architecture at the university.

The University of Pennsylvania has a series of “firsts” to its credit including: the first chartered university: 1791, one of the first medical schools in America under Dr. John Morgan: 1765, first department of Botany: 1768, first teaching hospital: 1874, the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, the first university school of business: 1881, one of the world’s pioneer psychological clinics: 1896, and the first department of research medicine: 1910, and the first comprehensive Graduate School of Medicine: 1916.

The third and present site of the University of Pennsylvania is not only an important and innovative educational center, it also became an architectural showplace. From the personalized design of the University Library by Philadelphia architect, Frank Furness to the lauded modern Richards Medical Research Building by Philadelphia architect, Louis I. Kahn, the University campus till today has been a plum for the Philadelphia architects and has, in turn, employed many notable architects in the design of the campus buildings.

“The list includes such 19th century greats as Frank Furness, the Victorian Gothic who created the massive library in 1888; Wilson Eyre, Jr., who, in collaboration with Frank Miles Day and Cope & Stewardson during the 1890’s designed the city’s finest creative Eclectic building, the University Museum; and Cope & Stewardson who were already famous for their Collegiate Gothic works at Bryn Mawr and Princeton when in 1895 they employed the Jacobethan to produce ‘a series of architectural adventures’ in the Men’s Dormitories at Pennsylvania…Among the notable names and work of the later era…(Is) the great Louis I. Kahn’s Alfred Newton Richards Medical Research Building (1957–1961), which has been called ‘one of the greatest buildings of modern times’.”(—Richard Webster)

The Architects

Thomas W. Richards (dates unknown) – designed the central core of the University of Pennsylvania at its West Philadelphia location. He was also Professor of Architecture at the University. He designed several churches in Philadelphia, among them St. James Kingsessing and Trinity Presbyterian Church (NE).

Furness & Evans

Frank Furness (1839–1912). Furness was trained in the office of Richard M. Hunt. He began in partnership with John Fraser and George D. Hewitt (1867–1871), then only with Hewitt (1871–1875), by himself (1875–1881), and after 1881 with Allan Evans. Much of the work of Furness which filled Philadelphia does not survive today. The University Library is one of his surviving achievements.

Allan Evans (1849–1925). Evans was trained in the office of Samuel Shaw. In 1879 he joined the firm of Furness and Hewitt. With the departure of Hewitt, Evans became a partner in the firm.

Cope and Stewardson

Walter Cope (1860–1902). Cope was trained in the office of T. P. Chandler. He formed a partnership with John and Emlyn Stewardson in 1884. They designed college buildings in an English Gothic style. Colleges they helped to design include Bryn Mawr, Princeton, Haverford, University of Pennsylvania (in the Philadelphia vicinity), Washington University (St. Louis), among others.

John Stewardson (1857–1896). John Stewardson was an artist and architect and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (Paris) and in the office of T. P. Chandler. He formed a partnership with his brother and Cope in 1884. The English Gothic concept, and the design of the dorms at the University of Pennsylvania are attributed to him. He died early in his career, drowning while ice skating on the Schuylkill River.

Emlyn Stewardson (1863–1936). Stewardson was an architect of collegiate buildings and studied at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined in partnership with his brother and Cope.

George Bispham Page (1870–1948). Page trained in the Office of Cope and Stewardson. In 1927 he began to practice in partnership with Emlyn Stewardson until his death in 1936. Stewardson and Page did work at he University of Pennsylvania, also the North American Building (Philadelphia) and the Federal Post Office (Allentown, Pa.).

G. W. and W. D. Hewitt

George Watson Hewitt (1841–1916). Hewitt was trained in the office of John Notman till 1865. Early in his career he joined in partnership with Frank Furness (Fraser, Furness and Hewitt). In 1877 he formed an office with his brother William till 1902. They designed the Old Bourse, The Bellevue Stratford Hotel, among others.

William D. Hewitt (1848–1924). Hewitt began his practice with his brother George. After G. W. retired in 1902, William formed the firm of Hewitt, Stevens and Paist, then Hewitt & Granger, and after 1917, Hewitt & Ash.

Frank Miles Day; Day and Klauder

Frank Miles Day (1861–1918). Day studied at the University of Pennsylvania and in 1887 established his own office with his brother, H. Kent Day. In 1912, his brother retired and he joined with Charles Z. Klauder to specialize in designing academic and educational buildings, including Cornell, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania. They were consulting architects for the University of Chicago, Penn State, and Delaware College.

Charles Z. Klauder (1872–1938). Klauder was trained in the office of T. P. Chandler till 1893, also worked ;in the offices of Wilson Brothers, Walter Cope & Horace Trumbauer. In 1900 he joined Frank Miles Day & Brother and in 1913 became a partner.

Wilson Eyre (1858–1944). Eyre was trained in the office of James P. Sims till 1881 and succeeded to his practice. Eyre was known primarily in the field of domestic architecture in Philadelphia, Maryland, New York, Maine and Rhode Island.

Horace Trumbauer (1869–1938). Trumbauer was self-trained and began in the office of G. W. and W. D. Hewitt. In 1892 he opened his own office. He designed buildings at Beaver College, Duke University. Some Philadelphia buildings he designed include the Union League, the Art Museum (with others), Jefferson Medical College, St. James Hotel and the Stotesbury Mansion, Whitemarsh Hall.

Louis Kahn (? –1976). Kahn was a student at the University of Pennsylvania and studied with Paul Cret. He worked in the office of Paul Cret, working mainly in a Classical Revival style. In the 1930’s he entered the Academy of Fine Arts to begin a career as a graphic artist and traveled in Europe. Post W.W. II Kahn returned to his architectural career working in a Wrightian/Modern European tradition and finally evolving his own individual architectural character. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania from 1959 to his death.

Edgar V. Seeler (?). Along with the University of Pennsylvania, Seeler designed 401 Walnut Street (HABS); Baptist Church, 17th and Sansom; and 1315 Filbert Street, N.E. corner of Juniper.

Collins & Autenreich (?). Along with the University of Pennsylvania commission, Collins and Autenreich also designed Lit Brothers.


West from 33rd Street along the center of Walnut Street to the western side of the Institute of Environmental Studies southward along a line of its most western point to the northern most side of Phi Kappa Sigma, Delta Upsilon and Delta Tau Delta fraternities west to the center of 36th Street then south along 36th Street to the Northern side of Psi Upsilon then along a line of the northern most point of Psi Upsilon to the most western point of the same building, then south along a line of the western most point of Psi Upsilon till the center of the line that defined the line of Woodland Avenue, southwesterly along the line of Woodland Avenue to the center of 38th Street, then north, west, south and east along the boundary of the Veterinary Hospital and back to the center of 38th Street, then southeasterly along the center of University Avenue to the property line of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) northeasterly along the property line to the southern facade of the Johnson Pavilion along the lines of the most southern and eastern points of the Johnson Pavilion facades to Hamilton Walk then west along the center of Hamilton Walk to 34th Street, then north along the center of 34th Street to Spruce Street, then east along the center of Spruce Street to 33rd Street; then south along 33Pd Street, then along the lines of the most southeasterly and southwesterly facades of the University Museum to the center of South Street, southeasterly along the center of South Street to the line of freight railroad tracks east of Franklin Field and the plex to the center of 33rd Street, north along the center of 33rd Street till it meets the starting line in the center of Walnut Street.

Justification of Boundaries

The boundaries of the University of Pennsylvania Campus Historic District reflect what remains of the early 20th century campus as defined in maps of the campus in 1914 and 1937.

This National Register nomination was researched and prepared by Madeline L. Cohen in 1977.

Major Bibliographical References

  • “Work of Messrs. Frank Miles Day & Brother,” Architectural Record XV, No. 5, May 1904.
  • Giurgola, Romalds & Jaimini Mehta, Louis I. Kahn, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1975.
  • Nitzsche, George E. University of Pennsylvania (photographs), E. Moebius Company, September 1918.
  • —, University of Pennsylvania; Its History, Traditions, Buildings and Memorials: A: Guide for Visitors, (1914).
  • O’Gorman, James. The Architecture of Frank Furness, Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • Philadelphia Guide to the Nation’s Birthplace, WPA, 1937.
  • Thomas, George “Centennial Historic District” (nomination to the Pennsylvania Inventory of Historic Places), unpublished, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission files.
  • “A New Influence in the Architecture of Philadelphia: Horace Trumbauer”, Architectural Record, Vol. XV, No. 2, February 1904.
  • Teitelman, Edward and Richard Longstreth, Architecture in Philadelphia: A Guide.
  • Welster, Richard, Philadelphia Preserved, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976.
  • Withey, Henry F. & Elsie Rathburn Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (deceased), L.A., Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc., 1970 (1956).
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