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Westminster College

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c. 1885–present. Southeast of Market (PA 956) and Maple sts.

Westminster College, chartered in 1852 by the Associate Presbyterian Church (today Presbyterian USA), was one of the first coeducational colleges in America. Many experts at the time expected coeducation to fail, but Westminster and Waynesburg College in Greene County (GR3) successfully educated women with men. New Wilmington, then a village of 200 people, offered an endowment if the college would settle in the town. Residents of the college and town were strong abolitionists, and New Wilmington became a center for the Underground Railroad. A real railroad, the Sharpsville line, established a stop at the college in 1881, which nurtured both the school and its community.

Westminster College's buildings vary in style from Collegiate Gothic to Second Empire and to post–World War II prefabricated faculty housing and modern structures. The oldest building on campus is the white frame Thompson House (c. 1885) on Market Street, an exuberant example of the Stick Style. Above Market Street, Hillside Hall (1885), a red brick Queen Anne dormitory with a central tower, was originally the Ladies Hall and Conservatory of Music. The 1920s saw extensive construction, especially around the quadrangle outlined by Orchard, Maple, and Market streets and Westminster Drive. Built of random-laid stone with limestone trim, Collegiate Gothic Old Main, with its tall bell tower and housing Wallace Memorial Chapel, was erected between 1927 and 1929 to replace the previous administration building that had been destroyed by fire. Browne Hall (1928), using similar materials, was funded by residents of New Castle, and designed by the New Castle firm W. G. Eckles Company Architects.

Another college landmark, “Old 77,” the gymnasium at the southern end of the main quad, was named after the basketball team's seventy-seven-game winning streak. Built c. 1920, the building's iron roof structure and decorative maroon brick exterior evoke industrial structures, in contrast to the traditional architecture of the campus quadrangle.

Farther south overlooking Brittain Lake, a grouping of post–World War II faculty houses, funded by federal GI loans and built c. 1945, is a rare survivor of the recent past. A small neighborhood of these frame U-shaped houses was constructed along a loop off College Drive. To the north, the newest residences on campus, Berlin Village (2006), provide three groupings of four- to six-apartment units for senior students. Three-story, flat-roofed red brick dormitories and a large auditorium, gymnasium, and science center have updated the campus to the east and south, surrounded by playing fields.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Westminster College", [New Wilmington, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 554-555.

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