Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Weckesser Hall

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Institution Name: Wilkes University
Original/Historic Place Name: Residence of Frederick J. Weckesser
Location on Campus: 170 S. Franklin St.
Date(s) of Construction:
1914-1916original construction Gilbert, C. P. H.
Designer: C. P. H. Gilbert
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, culture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone
Walls: Indiana limestone
Roof: slate
 
Function:
1916-1956private residence
1964-1967residence hall
1967-present (2006)administration
 

Narrative:
Designed by the architect Charles H. P. Gilbert, the Weckesser home was built between 1914 and 1916 as a residence for Frederick J. Weckesser, who moved to the Wilkes-Barre area at the turn of the nineteenth century. He was a business associate of F.M. Kirby, who lived at 202 South River Street. When Kirby's business merged with the Woolworth Company, Weckesser became a district manager, and at the time of his death in 1953, was the director of the F.W. Woolworth Company. This success in the business world provided Weckesser with the means to build his home in the fabulous Beaux-Arts style, which was popular in the United States prior to World War I. It was the last of the great mansions of South Wilkes-Barre to be constructed, and is one of the few examples of this type of architecture left in the area. A large garage, now known as the Weckesser Annex, was built in the same style as the house, and was outfitted with a motorized turntable (no longer extant) that let Mrs. Weckesser avoid backing out her car. Worth $150,000 in 1930, the structure is believed to have been the most expensive home ever built in Wilkes-Barre.

The building was acquired by Wilkes in 1956, after the passing of Mrs. Anna Weckesser. It was used as a women's dorm from 1964 to 1967, and now serves administrative functions. The first floor of the limestone building features two boardrooms and a kitchen, in addition to a reception area and other offices. The second and third floors -- former bedroom suites and an opulent Oriental-style ballroom -- are now home to administrative offices.
 

References:

Andrews, Ronald L. "An Inventory of Historical Landmarks on the Campus of Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania." Typescript. July 1975. Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Andrews, Ronald L. Historic Sites Survey of Wilkes-Barre: Final Report. Wilkes-Barre, PA: Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, 1979.

Cox, Harold E. The Wilkes University Historical Atlas. Wilkes-Barre, PA: Wilkes University Press, 1997.

 

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Last update: November 2006