No place like home: The Faculty Cottages

June 18, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A few old houses on the University Park campus may pique the curiosity of passers-by: Tucked here and there are architectural remnants of Penn State's early years, a reminder of when the fledgling institution offered on-campus residences as part of faculty compensation, and teachers and students mingled in a more family-like setting. Known as the Faculty Cottages, there were at least a dozen built, and several are pictured here in the late 1800s -- from left, Maple Cottage, Pine Cottage and Spruce Cottage, along what is today Pollock Road.

Pine Cottage was built in 1888 as the home of the school’s commandant of cadets (military instruction was then mandatory), first Lieutenant Samuel Pague and then a succession of others. It served that purpose until 1917, when it became the residence of Engineering Dean Robert Sackett, and still later occupants included a sorority; incoming freshmen; the Office of Telecommunications; and the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.

Spruce Cottage, built in 1890, was first occupied by George Gilbert “Swampy” Pond, dean of the eventual College of Chemistry and Physics, and his family. The Ponds were very sociable, hosting many gatherings, and the cottage was fondly nicknamed “Swampscote” after the dean. After 1921 the cottage had many uses – as a guest house for distinguished visitors to the University; a sorority home; and a space for women’s conferences and for home economics research; and later on housed several departments in turn, including the campus police, the Offices of Mail and Telephone Services, the Department of Publications, and the Office of Summer Sessions.

Maple Cottage, built in 1888, was first occupied by Henry Armsby, director of the Agricultural Experiment Station and dean of Agriculture; later it became sorority and student housing. It was demolished in 1953.

In 1938, to make way for the construction of Osmond Laboratory, Pine and Spruce were relocated to their present location behind Ritenour Building. Today, both cottages serve as instructional facilities for students in Penn State's Forensic Science program.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 19, 2015