For the Record: Sergeant Hall

Text by Jeanne Leong

Sergeant Hall, formerly located at 34th and Chestnut streets, was built in 1900 as an upscale apartment building named The Essex.

Sergeant Hall
Photo by University Archives and Records Center

Sergeant Hall, formerly located at 34th and Chestnut streets, was built in 1900 as an upscale apartment building named The Essex.

Sergeant Hall
Photo by University Archives and Records Center

Penn purchased the building in 1924 and opened its first dorm for women during a decade when the number of women students at the University was on the rise.

The University offered accommodations at Sergeant Hall for 175 undergraduate and graduate women. The dorm was a multipurpose building that also held a dining room and space for the offices of several women’s student organizations.

The building is named in honor of Hannah E. Sergeant, who had strong ties to Penn: She was married to John Ewing, the second provost of the University from 1780-1802.

The dorm was conveniently located about one block away from Bennett Hall, which was constructed in 1925 to become the academic center for women at Penn.

When Harriet Jean Crawford was named the first Directress of Women at Penn, she resided in Sergeant Hall and directed the Bennett Club, which provided recreational activities for women students.

In Sergeant Hall’s later years, it became office space for the Penn Credit Union and home to the Daily Pennsylvanian. It was the DP’s headquarters from 1966 to 1975. The DP used the hall’s former dining room as a composition room.

When the aging structure became too costly to renovate to make it habitable, Penn demolished the building in 1975. The DP moved to newly renovated offices at 4015 Walnut St., and the site of Sergeant Hall became a faculty-staff parking lot.

For more information about this and other historical events at Penn, visit the University Archives online.

Originally published on .