LGBT Center’s 35th Anniversary

Carriage House

The Carriage House at 3907 Spruce Street (shown above in 1925) was constructed in 1876 by Joseph Potts. It served in a private capacity until 1911, when the International House of Philadelphia (an organization a was then closely affiliated with Penn’s Christian Association) purchased the property. They expanded the Carriage House in 1922. Afterwards, the building served as a thrift shop and a private residence before being renovated by the LGBT Center in 2000. Photograph courtesy of the Philadelphia Department of Records.

Penn’s LGBT Center celebrates its 35th anniversary this fall with events including a rededication of the Carriage House, noon-1 p.m. on Saturday, October 14 (free), in honor of its founding director, Bob Schoenberg, upon his retirement; followed by an Anniversary Celebration at Houston Hall. Register at lgbt35.com or call (215) 898-5044. Cost of admission is $35 per person or $10 for students.

The LGBT Center’s history has been intertwined with the University’s history for the last four decades. In the fall of 1982, in response to homophobic incidents on campus, the Student Activities office hired Mr. Schoenberg to work part-time handling gay and lesbian issues at Penn. As the program proved a success, he became a full-time employee and the Center a full-fledged campus organization. By 2000, the LGBT Center had acquired office space in what is now Sweeten Alumni House and had several work-study students.

In 2000, a $2 million gift from David Goodhand, C’85, and Vincent Griski, C’85, allowed Penn to devote an entire building to the flourishing LGBT Center (Almanac October 24, 2000). With this donation and with $5 million in funds from a fundraising campaign, the Center redesigned the interior of a Carriage House to provide two stories of space for the Center. The LGBT Center moved into the restored 19th century Carriage House in summer, 2002. 

Penn’s LGBT Center remains a vital and dynamic part of the Penn community (Almanac September 12, 2017). The center engages in outreach, education, supportive services, and advocacy for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff. See the Center’s website to learn more about the mission and events.