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Old Main ~ Pennsylvania State University | by Steve Maciejewski
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Old Main ~ Pennsylvania State University

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Old Main ~ Pennsylvania State University


Old Main, originally called "Main Building" is The Pennsylvania State University’s first building of major significance. It was completed in 1863 after a six-year period of construction. Hugh McAllister designed the structure to contain classrooms, laboratories, offices, a chapel, and residential space for 400 students. The limestone used to build the structure was quarried from the land directly in front of it, and was carried in part by a mule named Old Coaly, whose bones were subsequently preserved. After being deemed structurally unsound in the 1920s, the building was razed in 1929 and rebuilt in 1930. The new building, occupying the same footprint as the previous structure and incorporating some of its limestone, was christened "Old Main". The renovations cost $837,000, which was mostly paid for by state appropriations and an emergency building fund campaign. The bell in the tower was a gift from the 1904 graduating class, and westminster chimes were added as a gift of the 1937 class. The original chimes remained in use until the late 1970s when the university replaced them with a mix of mechanical and electronic bells. These bells eventually gave way in 1993 to the digital chimes which ring over the campus today. Between 1940 and 1949, Henry Varnum Poor utilized the fresco style to paint large murals (over 1300 ft²) on the second floor of Old Main that depict Penn State's land grant history. Today, Old Main serves as the administrative center of Penn State, housing the offices of the president and other officials.


It is located in the Farmers' High School Historic District added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

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Taken on September 21, 2012