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A New Home for the McNeil Center

The McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania celebrated its 25th anniversary by announcing  plans for its new building. School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel H. Preston presented the building plans, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, at an anniversary celebration for the center’s past and current fellows, advisory board members, and other friends on December 11, 2003. The building, which will be the center’s first permanent home in its 25-year history, will be located on 34th Street near Walnut Street, a primary gateway to the University’s campus. Construction is expected to begin by January 2005.

At the event, Penn President Judith Rodin said, “With its prominent location, the building will be a beacon for scholars of early American history and a reminder to all that study of this period belongs at the heart of a liberal arts education.”

The approximately 10,000-square-foot building features 17 private fellow’s offices, a 70-seat seminar-lecture room, a 30-seat conference room, administrative offices, and other amenities to provide for the Center’s needs well into the future.

Emeritus professor of history Richard S. Dunn founded the center as the Philadelphia Center for Early American Studies in 1978. It was renamed in honor of its longtime benefactor, former McNeil Laboratories chairman Robert L. McNeil, Jr., in 1998. The Barra Foundation and Mr. McNeil made a pledge last year to build the center’s new home and to provide a permanent endowment for the building’s operational costs. At the event, Dean Preston thanked Mr. McNeil for his steadfast support of the center, noting that many of the center’s achievements were made possible through his generosity.

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