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University House History

Until 1970, the majestic stone house that comprises the east end of the Hintz Family Alumni Center was home to Penn State’s presidents. From Evan Pugh to Eric Walker, University presidents raised their families, entertained Penn State guests, and frequently modified the three–story house to reflect changing styles in architecture.


University House - 1865President's House was completed in 1864 for president Evan Pugh and his new bride, Rebecca Valentine of Bellefonte, Pa. Unfortunately, Pugh died of typhoid fever at the age of 36, eight months before the house was completed. The orginial Italianate–style farmhouse would undergo several major renovations over the years.


University House - 1890Several porches were added to the house in the 1880s, including one that wrapped around Mrs. Atherton's prized apple tree.


University House - 1895Around 1895 a third floor was added and the house was transformed into a fine example of Queen Anne–style architecture. President Edwin Sparks entertained frequently during his tenure (1908–1920). Sparks' wife Katherine created a minor scandal when she ordered silver wallpaper for the presidential parlors at $10 per roll, an exorbitant price at the time.


University House - 1940The last major renovation to the President's House occurred from 1939 to 1940 when the large portico and columns were added, giving the house the Southern plantation look popularized at the time by Gone With the Wind. Famous guests from the early part of the 20th century included industrialists Charles Schwab and Andrew Carnegie. President Dwight Eisenhower visited several times in the 1950s when his brother, Milton, was Penn State president (1950–1956). During his presidency, Milton Eisenhower would leave the porch light on to indicate to students they were welcome.


University House - 1961President Eric Walker (1956–1970) was the last Penn State president to live in the President's House. On April 20, 1970, student protestors stormed the grounds of the house voicing their opinions on the Vietnam War, minority enrollment on campus, and other political issues. University officials decided the president should live off campus and purchased a suitable home in nearby Boalsburg, Pa. President Walker and his family moved out when he retired in 1970.


University House - 2000Construction of the Hintz Family Alumni Center began with demolition of the kitchen and garage added in the last renovation. The addition of the large wing tripled the size of the existing house and provides office space and reception rooms for the Alumni Association. The Hintz Family Alumni Center was dedicated in 2001. The Alumni Gardens and Alumni Walk were dedicated in 2006 and 2008.


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