Schwab Auditorium has rich history at Penn State

In 1902, Penn State needed money for a chapel. Trustee Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel and a former protege of Andrew Carnegie of U.S. Steel, donated $150,000 for the construction of Schwab Auditorium, which would come to be used as much more than a chapel. In comparison, at the time the average annual income of a working-class family was a little more than $1,000.

Built in the Beaux Arts style, which combined elements of Imperial Roman, Italian Renaissance, and French and Italian baroque styles, the building was crafted from buff-colored brick. Schwab was ill and was unable to attend the auditorium’s dedication in May of 1903.

Today the building is used as one of several campus performance venues and holds large overview classes. At least three ghosts are rumored to reside there – George Atherton, Schwab and an unidentified soldier.

The relationship between U.S. Steel and Penn State, forged in the early 1900s with Schwab and Carnegie, continues today.

Web links:

-- Review a current-day seating chart here.

-- See Information about Schwab Auditorium on the Center for the Performing Arts' website here.

-- Read about the long relationship between Penn State and U.S. Steel.

-- Click here to see Schwab Auditorium as seen from Old Botany in 1903.

-- See a picture of Schwab Auditorium in La Vie, 1906 (page 192).

-- For more on Beaux Arts architecture, click here.

Last Updated November 18, 2010