Provosts Tower, Philadelphia

Provosts Tower, Philadelphia

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, Provost Tower stands as a historic and architecturally significant structure on 36th Street, just south of Spruce Street. Constructed in 1912, this seven-story building functions as the grand entrance to the Lower Quad and holds immense historical value for the University of Pennsylvania.

The tower was named in honor of William Smith, the university's first provost, who served from 1755 to 1779 and again from 1789 to 1791. Smith's contributions were pivotal in shaping the early development of the college, which evolved into the prestigious University of Pennsylvania.

Interestingly, the construction of Provosts Tower was funded as a generous gift from the family and friends of Provost Charles Custis Harrison, to commemorate his retirement in 1910. This gesture symbolizes the deep respect and admiration for Harrison’s contributions to the university.

Adding to the tower's grandeur is a seated statue of Provost Harrison, positioned outside the building, overlooking the property with a sense of pride. This statue is not only a tribute to Harrison but also serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of the university's leadership.

The building itself is a marvel of architectural design, featuring intricately carved limestone decorations by the sculptor Edward Maene. These decorations include plaques dedicated to each of the first 12 provosts of the university, signifying the tower’s role as a tribute to all the provosts who have served at the institution. Additionally, twin "headboards" embellished with the Coat of Arms of Pennsylvania adorn the parapet, adding to the building's aesthetic and historical significance.

One of the key features of Provosts Tower is its fifth floor, which houses a two-story library and lounge. This space not only serves as a functional area for study and relaxation but also as a physical embodiment of the university's commitment to academic excellence and the pursuit of knowledge.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Philadelphia. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Provosts Tower on Map

Sight Name: Provosts Tower
Sight Location: Philadelphia, USA (See walking tours in Philadelphia)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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