Walnut Building is demolished

July, 2000

The Walnut Building was the powerful center of minority student social, academic, cultural, and political life at Penn State from the opening of the Black Cultural Center in 1971 until the Paul Robeson Cultural Center moved to its current expanded facility in 1999.

The former USO surplus building on an Army base in Lebanon, Pa, was transferred piece-by-piece in the fall of 1947 to the Shortlidge Road site at the University Park campus. The building later served as the Temporary Union Building, affectionately known as the TUB, for Penn State students in the 1940s and ‘50s. When the Hetzel Union Building (HUB), opened in 1955, it was renamed the Walnut Building and was used by the Division of Student Affairs and then the Department of Anthropology before becoming home to the student run Black Cultural Center (1971) and later the Paul Robeson Cultural Center (1972).

The building underwent makeovers in 1974 and 1986, including construction of a small art gallery, a library, conference room, and meeting spaces. One constant was the auditorium, a multi-function space, where the center sponsored speakers, dances, performances, meetings and receptions, such as one for Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Alex Haley, Nikki Giovanni, Julian Bond, Jessie Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire and many others. The building hosted over 500 events a year during the 1980s and 1990s.

The Walnut Building was demolished in the summer of 2000 to make way for the current Chemistry Building.