Old Main and Chemistry Building

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Old Main and Chemistry Building
Old Main and Chemistry Building, November 2009
Old Main and Chemistry Building is located in Pennsylvania
Old Main and Chemistry Building
Old Main and Chemistry Building is located in the United States
Old Main and Chemistry Building
Location14th St. between Melrose Ave. and Walnut St., Chester, Pennsylvania
Coordinates39°51′42″N 75°21′19″W / 39.86167°N 75.35528°W / 39.86167; -75.35528Coordinates: 39°51′42″N 75°21′19″W / 39.86167°N 75.35528°W / 39.86167; -75.35528
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built byCrump, John & Shedwick, John
ArchitectCrump, John
NRHP reference #78002389[1]
Added to NRHPMay 22, 1978

Old Main and Chemistry Building are two, connected, historic buildings built in 1867 and 1883 located on the campus of Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania.


The Old Main building is four-stories high with stucco and Wissahickon schist stone exterior. It has a two-pitched roof with a central grand pediment and two minor flanking pediments. Atop the grand pediment is a unique "dome" structure and atop both minor pediments are matching cupola.

The measurements of the building are 243 feet (east to west) by 65 feet (East end) and 55 feet (West end) with walls that are 2 1/2 feet thick. The discrepancy in the measurements is due to renovations in 1883 after a fire destroyed the upper floors on the eastern end. The symmetry of the building was lost with the eastern addition of an auditorium, classrooms and dormitory space.[2]

The Chemistry Building is adjacent to Old Main and is a three-story building measuring 37 feet by 51 feet. It is connected to Old Main by a wrought iron and plank-board walk-way extending from the 2nd floor of each structure. It was built in order to separate dangerous laboratory conditions from the dormitory area of the Old Main building.[2]


The Old Main building was built in 1867 and the Chemistry building in 1883. Old Main served as the primary quarters for the Pennsylvania Military Academy and Pennsylvania Military College from 1867 to 1957. After expansion of the school and construction of additional facilities, Old Main was used as the center of administrative services for the College.[2]

Both buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "National Historic Landmarks & National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania" (Searchable database). CRGIS: Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. Note: This includes Thomas Carnwath and Nancy M. Steele (October 1977). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Old Main and Chemistry Building" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-01-06.