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From Farm to College: Home

Welcome to Albright College's Past






"From Farm to College" -- Adapted from a paper written by Doris L. Armes, Class of 1944

** When Jonathan Deininger and Mary Elizabeth Hiester returned to America ... 1836 ... Selwyn Hall." **

In its progression from "Farm to College" the present campus has had many alterations and additions to its buildings. Selwyn Hall was the first building and was originally used as a dwelling. { 1836 } It was an early square farmhouse and commonly called the "Deininger Mansion" until 1875 when the Protestant Episcopal Church of Central Pennsylvania founded Selwyn Hall School, a military academy as a boarding and day school for boys. They took over the buildings and added another wing which was to be used as a dormitory. Later Schuylkill Seminary extended this wing and then when Albright College erected the Selwyn Hall Annex, a connecting wing was built between the two buildings. Each separate wing can be located in the present building. Early pictures of the camps show the land directly behind this building encircled by a white picket fence. The Sylvan Lake, as well as the spring house, was also a part of this farm. The two circles of concrete near one corner of the lake were at one time the outlines of a well which furnished excellent spring water.  People form all sections of Reading came here for water. It was closed in recent years when its water was condemned by the State Health Department. In the front of Selwyn Hall may be seen a hitching post. Also down at the Thirteenth and Exeter Street entrance may be seen the two ends of a foot-scraper which have been cut down and made level with the curb. Until about 1932 there was a wooden porch on the front of Selwyn Hall, but at this time it was changed into its present form, The "cottage" was originally the summer house for some people of Reading.

When Schuylkill Seminary considered purchasing the seven acres of land in this section of Reading, Selwyn Hall School was located here and consisted of three buildings, a main building, a chapel, and a gymnasium. Later added were the tower and steps to the chapel building, Also an administration building was constructed with offices, classrooms, a library, laboratories, and a dormitory. The latter building was ereeccted in 1921.

When Albright College purchased the land, the large number of its students necessitated the construction of Science Hall and Selwyn Hall Annex Dormitory.

The present library [ Alumni Hall ] was used as a gym and dormitory for Schuylkill College and Albright College. In 1936 it was converted into a library. An outside stairway leading from the second floor to the walk on the south side of the building was used while there as a gymnasium on the first floor and a dormitory on the second.

There have been several interesting changes in the campus proper. In the earlier days there was a drive through the campus beginning at the present entrance from Thirteenth and Exeter, coming in front of Selwyn Hall, turning directly in front of Selwyn Hall, turning direct east and facing the chapel, and then following the present drive through to Union Street. This was abandoned several years ago when it became a midnight speedway for the people of Reading. When this drive was abandoned the present stone wall was built thus forming the parking space. Previously to this time automobiles could be seen parked almost anywhere on the front campus, even where the rosebud in now located.

In the flat land between Selwyn Hall and the Administration building traces of the former tennis courts can be seen.



and also constructed