October 05, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The first building dedicated exclusively to Penn State student union activities was the Temporary Union Building, affectionately known as the TUB, seen in this late 1940s photo. 

A former USO surplus building on a U.S. Army base in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, the wood-frame structure, painted yellow, was transferred piece-by-piece in the fall of 1947 to the University Park campus, on Shortlidge Road, where today’s Chemistry Building now stands.

When student union activities were moved to the Hetzel Union Building in 1955, the TUB was renamed Walnut Building and was used for several other purposes before it became Penn State's first center for minority student social and cultural life. The Black Cultural Center was a student-run organization until 1972, when the University established the center as an official unit.

When Walnut was remodeled in 1986, students, faculty and staff chose to rename and rededicate the center in honor of Paul Robeson, internationally acclaimed singer, actor, athlete, and human- and civil-rights activist.

The Paul Robeson Cultural Center hosted diverse programs, speakers, performances, receptions and other activities from 1972 until 1999, when it moved to its current, larger location in the Hetzel Union Building, bringing all Penn State student union activities under one roof once again. The HUB was renamed the HUB-Robeson Center, and Walnut Building was demolished. In 2011 the University installed a historical marker at the site.

  • Walnut Building historical marker on Penn State UP campus

    A Penn State historical marker commemorates Walnut Building, the first home for the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, on the University Park campus. The marker was proposed by the Penn State Black History Project, a coalition of units across the University, to honor the impact Walnut Building had in nurturing diversity on campus, and installed in 2011.

    IMAGE: Laura Waldhier

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 06, 2016