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Wilcox Library Archives

Campus Building History

Our Campus

Old Main was located on College Avenue across the street from the current College Avenue Friends Church. The building was constructed in three phases with the west wing completed in 1873 and the central section completed in 1879, both funded by the Quakers.  The final east wing was completed in 1890 and funded by the citizens of Oskaloosa.  Old Main burned to the ground on the morning of May 27, 1916.  Robert Williams, the Business Manager, and Harry Oakley, a student, died in the fire.

The President’s Cottage was built in 1892 and is still standing on College Avenue but is no longer owned by the University.  Penn College presidents resided in the home from 1892 until 1917 when it became a men’s dormitory.  The College sold the house sometime in the 1930s or 1940s, we don’t actually know.

South Hall and East Hall were old frame houses located on opposite sides of College Avenue.  Both houses provided room and board for Penn students and faculty. Both houses have been demolished.

 The Old Gymnasium was completed in 1907 and used by men three days per week and the women three days per week. After the move to the new campus the Old Gymnasium was sold in 1946 and demolished by the Oskaloosa Christian School in the 1980s.

Penn Hall was constructed on land donated to the college by Charles and Albert Johnson in 1898.  The building opened in 1917 and had an observatory on the roof. The funding for this building, Lewis Hall and the heating plant came from donations collected in June and July of 1916.

The heating plant was constructed at the same time as Penn Hall.

Lewis Hall, formerly the Women’s Residence Building, opened in the winter of 1917.  The building also provided space for the campus dining hall until 1966. In 1967, the building was named in honor of Rosa Lewis, a Penn College graduate who was a member of the Penn College faculty for over 40 years.

Spencer Memorial Chapel opened in 1923 and was built with funds donated by Mrs. H. L. Spencer in memory of her husband. The chapel is built in the Georgian Colonial Style in contrast to the Prairie Style of the rest of the buildings. The lower level of the Chapel provided a recreation hall that has provided space for roller skating, bowling, a bookstore, a coffee house and a sandwich shop at different times.

Peasley- Griffith Hall was given by Mrs. Peasley who donated the old Gibbs mansion to William Penn College in 1945.  The house served as a men’s dorm until the 1960s when it became home to the Fine Arts Department. The house was torn down in 1997 to make room for the Indian Hills Community College – William Penn College Center.

The new Gymnasium was completed in 1956. The money for the gym was raised by a group of alumni who wanted to “build our boys a gym” and the Quaker Men of the Iowa Yearly Meeting.

Watson Hall was constructed from 1961 through 1963 and funded by federal loans. It is named for S. Arthur Watson, who served as president of William Penn College from 1958 to 1964.

Wilcox Library was completed in 1964 with funds raised for the College’s 90th anniversary celebration.  The largest donation was from a class of 1900 alumnus Dr.  Edgar Wilcox. The library collection had been located on the east end of the third floor of William Penn Hall and had caused damage to the foundation of the building.

Atkins Memorial Union was completed in 1966 and provided space for the cafeteria, bookstore and various student activities such as pool and ping pong in addition to student media space. The Union was named in memory of Dana Atkins who served as dean of students from 1966 to 1970.

Eltse Hall was completed in 1966 and named for 1909 alumnus Ralph Eltse who had made a substantial donation to the college endowment. Eltse was the first dorm to be air-conditioned.

Edwin McGrew Fine Arts Center was dedicated in 1974 and funded by monies raised during the Centennial Campaign.  Willard and Edith Ware recommended the building be named for Edwin McGrew a 1895 Penn College graduate and President of the college from 1818 through 1927 and again from 1936 to 1942.

The Randleman Fitness Center is located on the south side of the gymnasium and opened in 1995 and is named for Ron Randleman, a 1964 alumnus and head football coach from 1966 to 1974.

The Twin Towers dormitory was built in 2000.

Penn Activity Center (PAC) was opened in 2008 and offers a fitness center, ball courts, nearly 50 yards of artificial turf, locker rooms, athletic training facilities, a wrestling room and an elevated running track. On the academic side of the building, science labs, classrooms, faculty offices and an auditorium are housed in the center. 

Musco Technology Center (MTC) was funded by Musco Lighting and opened in 2008. The MTC is home to the Industrial Technology classrooms and programs in Digital Communication. The MTC offers film studios and editing bays along with labs for industrial technology and applied computer science. The MTC is also home to the Communication Research Institute of William Penn University (CRI). 

The stadium is located at the Lacey Recreation Complex is an athletic facility that is utilized by the University and the Oskaloosa Community.  Construction began on the stadium in 2013.

Market Street Hall is a coeducational dorm located on the east side of campus.  The dorm opened in 2014.