Magnificent. Grand. Majestic. Sublime.
OK. Maybe we're the slightest bit biased, but most of us think of Kirby Hall -- home of our Humanities Division -- as a pretty impressive building.
The "diamond in the rough" was showing signs of age, but when a major renovation project was completed in 2000, the building won the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry's annual "Pride of Place Award," which is given to member businesses, industries, and organizations that improve the physical environment of the Greater Wilkes-Barre area.
Plans for the extensive renovation were announced as far back as July 31, 1992, by then President Christopher N. Breiseth. The announcement was in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Allan P. Kirby, the son of F.M. Kirby, a noted businessman. The project transformed the former home to the splendor of its original Victorian style.
Kirby Hall's purpose on campus has always reflected the changing needs of the growing Wilkes College, and later, Wilkes University. Kirby Hall has always stood as a cornerstone of our campus and as testament to Wilkes' commitment to excellence in higher education.
University library, 1941-1968
hung unlit for almost 18 years
If you were at Wilkes in 1941...
you were probably excited to be able to actually walk into the beautiful building on the corner of South and South River Streets.
The building was officially dedicated as the Kirby Educational Home of Bucknell Junior College on December 2, 1941, with many of Wilkes' founders, including Dr. Eugene Farley, Attorney Gilbert McClintock, Attorney George Bedford, and Dr. Arnaud C. Marts, in attendance.
Originally, the first floor of the building was used by music students, the second served as a library, and the third was the residence of Dr. and Mrs. Eugene Farley, the first President of Wilkes, and his wife. Eventually, the library expanded to all three floors until the Eugene S. Farley Library opened in 1968.
The home had remained empty after the passing of its original owner in 1940, until it was presented to BUJC on July 1, 1941, by Allan P. Kirby in memory of his parents, Fred Morgan and Jessie Amelia Kirby. It was the fourth building given to the growing BUJC, preceeded by the first Conyngham Hall, 120 South River Street; Chase Hall, 184 South River Street; and the first Weckesser Hall, 76 West Northampton Street.
F.M. Kirby, the self-made businessman behind the chain of Woolworth & Company, had purchased the home from Reuben Flick in 1905, for $55,000.