Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Sharpe House

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Institution Name: Wilson College
Original/Historic Place Name: Orr House
Location on Campus: 945 Philadelphia Ave.
Date(s) of Construction:
1887original construction Powell, W. Bleddyn
Designer: W. Bleddyn Powell
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: stone
Roof: slate
ca. 1887-1892private residence (of D.A. Orr and family)
ca. 1892-1942private residence (of Joshua Sharpe and family)
ca. 1942-1999residence hall (faculty and staff, including a Faculty Club)
ca. 1999-2001residence hall (Women With Children program, providing yearlong campus housing for single mother students and their children)
ca. 2001-present (2006)president's house

Sharpe House is exemplary of Victorian-era architecture in the Queen Anne style. The limestone construction is of an enduring quality that still shows the grandeur the architect intended back in 1887. The chestnut woodwork inside the house shows craftsmanship that, in its day, was the top of its field. It is a two-and-a-half story house with a steeply pitched slate roof, projecting gables, and a wrap-around porch. The house's location on a main road (U.S. Route 11, previously the Chambersburg-Harrisburg Turnpike), and slightly elevated site convey a sense of prestige. The architect, W. Bleddyn Powell, designed this building to be an expression of wealth, power, and class.

Mr. W. Bleddyn Powell is a significant personality in architectural history. Born in Philadelphia in 1854, he was a self-taught architect. After working for the Pennsylvania Railroad, Mr. Powell took a job with the city of Philadelphia as City Architect, designing buildings such as firehouses. He served as second assistant to John McArthur, Jr. on Philadelphia's City Hall, and in 1893 assumed the post of Project Manager for the completion of City Hall. Mr. Powell continued to serve as City Architect until he retired in 1909. He died in 1910.


Albert, Michael. "Norland Farm to Wilson College Campus, 1868-1900." Wilson College Department of History, History 316 (Spring 2002). C. Elizabeth Boyd '33 Archives, Hankey Center, Wilson College.

Reed, Paula S. Wilson College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1995.


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