Kirby Hall

Agnes Flood Walking Tour

Learn more about the buildings and locations that were most affected by the historic Hurricane Agnes flood with the Remembering Agnes walking tour.


In approximately 1765, Jabez Sill purchased the plot that now houses Kirby Hall and is considered the #1 site of land in the original town plan.

Kirby Hall was built between 1873-1874 for Stephen Leonard Thurlow, who was a businessman in Wilkes-Barre. It was sold to J. Frank Lee in 1880, then Rueben J. Flick in 1886, then to Fred Morgan Kirby in 1905 when he purchased it for $55,100. F.M. Kirby was a merchant and banker, born in NY in 1861. He came to Wilkes Barre in 1884 and opened his first five-and-ten cent store. He was operating 92 stores by 1912. It was given to Bucknell University Junior College in 1941 when it was donated by Allan P Kirby after F.M. Kirby’s death in 1940. The building then got its name for Kirby’s parents and former residents of the home.

The building houses administrative offices and classrooms for the English department. Before that, it was used as a library. It is a monochromatic form of the “High Victorian Gothic” stone style. It contains a high gable roof and a columned entrance. The house was designed by New York architect Fredrick Clark Withers who was associated with Frederick Law Olmstead, architect of Kirby Park and Central Park in New York City. It was then later remodeled by Bruce Price in 1880.

It was featured in the 1876 edition of “Architectural Digest” and the 1877 edition of “Buildings of F.C. Withers.” Before it was donated, some modifications were made to the property including a stone terrace, and the interior woodwork, and windows were changed. It was added on the Pennsylvania Register of Historic-Buildings prior to 1970.

The Impact of Agnes

The cost to clean up Kirby Hall was estimated to be at $200,000, requiring electrical repairs, new furniture, carpeting, and floors.

Darte Center before Hurricane Agnes
Before the Flood
Darte Center after Hurricane Agnes
After the Flood

View More Photos of the Hurricane Agnes Flood external website

Support the Library

Support for the E.S. Farley Library at Wilkes University helps fund more historical projects such as Remembering Agnes..