Answered By: Emily Pearson
Last Updated: Aug 05, 2020     Views: 310

Penrose library was built in 1957 with additions in 1974 and 1999. Prior to that, the library was in College Hall, the Memorial Building, an annex to the Memorial Building referred to as “the Library Shack,” and then Reynolds Hall.


The library is named after Stephen Penrose, who was the president of Whitman from 1894 to 1934. Stephen and his wife Mary, asked that if there was a memorial for them, it would be in the form of the library.

Some interesting tidbits about the library: When Penrose was first built, classes were canceled so students could help move books into the new building. Before the 1974 renovations, the entrance to the library was where the cafe is today on the first floor, and before the 1999 renovations, the 4th floor was an attic. As part of the 1974 renovations, the Stuart Room was donated to the library, which contains a large collection of Napoleonic artifacts including Napoleon’s doctor’s desk.