For many of us, seeing the historic buildings of the University of Pennsylvania—buildings like College Hall, Fisher Fine Arts Library, and Franklin Field—stir up memories of our own time and experiences on campus.
In this video series, join David Brownlee, Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor of 19th Century European Art in the School of Arts and Sciences, as he leads a virtual tour of some of Penn’s best-known historic buildings.
A Brief History of Penn’s Early Architecture
The University of Pennsylvania was not always located in West Philadelphia. Based first in its earliest campus at Fourth and Arch Streets in Center City, and its second campus at Ninth and Market, Penn’s presence has guided and influenced the course of city history for more than two and half centuries.
With its move to West Philadelphia in the mid-1800’s, College Hall was one of the first buildings constructed on the new campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Built in 1870, this iconic structure was designed to serve a wide range of educational functions for Penn’s growing student body.
Fisher Fine Arts Library
In the late 19th century, Penn began to create buildings that were intended to fulfill the specialized needs of its various schools and departments. The first of these was the University Library, now known as Fisher Fine Arts Library, designed by renowned Philadelphia architect Frank Furness.
Beginning in the 1890’s, the University worked with the architectural firm of Cope and Stewardson to create on-campus housing for Penn students. Continued into the 1920’s and then delayed by the Depression and World War II, the “Quad” was finally completed in the 1950’s.
Home to the Penn Relays, Franklin Field has been the stage for some of Philadelphia’s fiercest athletic competitions. Explore the humble beginnings of this historic stadium and its adjoining gymnasium, Weightman Hall.
In the late 19th century, the collections of the University Museum were rapidly outgrowing their home inside the Furness Library. Four bright young architects worked together to build a new museum building, based on an ambitious plan and a rich blend of architectural styles.