The Potts Mansion at 3905 Spruce Street has served Penn, in one way or another, for more than 120 years.
University records show that the 19th century structure took its current stately form in 1876, when local railroad and shipping tycoon Joseph Potts renovated it (at great cost, according to the University Archives) and made it into his family home. Potts, who was not a Penn alum, would go on to become a Penn Trustee. His sons, William and Francis Potts, graduated from the College. After the Potts era passed, the home sat vacant for a few years. In 1917, Penn purchased the property for use as the new site for the International Students House. The building served as either headquarters or support facility for the International House for the next half-century. Later, Potts Mansion became home to Penn’s radio station, WXPN-FM. The station thrived there for years but eventually outgrew the space. WXPN moved out in 2004 and, after extensive renovations, the mansion became home to the Penn Press, which remains there today.
For more on this, go to the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.
Originally published on March 26, 2009