Willard Building at Penn State

August 11, 2010

The Willard Building is one of the most classroom-dense facilities on the University Park campus. Built in 1949 and originally known as Willard Hall, the building contains mostly undergraduate classrooms, but also currently houses a computer store showroom, media technology support services, computer labs and a number of academic offices.

Here is an image of the front doors of Willard Hall in 1955: http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/u?/psuimages,2449.
Here are pictures of the Willard Building and the Willard Plaza today (2010): http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2304

Named for mathematics Professor Joseph M. Willard, the building over the years has not been without controversy. When the University announced that the nearby Armory Building (http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/u?/psuimages,842) would be demolished in January 1964 to make way for a new wing of Willard Building, students and faculty campaigned in vain to save the Armory.

From 1892 to 1964 the Armory, which symbolized Penn State's land-grant (http://www.psu.edu/ur/about/landgrant.html) commitment to offer military training as part of the nation's tradition of the citizen-soldier, stood as a campus landmark. Before World War I, participation in the Cadet Corps was mandatory for all male undergraduates. The armory, flanked in this 1942 (http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/u?/psuimages,850) view by campus elm trees, also was used for physical education, varsity athletics and social events.

Armory Tower:

Because of the Willard Building's prime location on core campus, the structure has become a gathering place for students and others – most notably local "preachers." To many Penn State students, the "Willard Preacher" is part of their college experience. Clarence "Bro" Cope, the original Willard Preacher, stood on the sidewalk in front of the building preaching to anyone who would listen from 1976-1982. After his departure, Gary Cattell took over the Willard Preacher reins, speaking to students and passersby from the side of the building that faces Old Main. He continues to preach today.

Willard Preachers
-- Bro Cope

-- Gary Cattell


  • IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated September 12, 2011