Camelot is a whimsical, fairytale-like home in State College that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house at 520 South Fraser Street was designed by David A. Campbell, a Penn State instructor of engineering drawing.
Campbell, who joined the faculty after World War I, wanted a dream home for him and his wife. Although construction began in 1922, it took fifteen years to complete.
The fanciful design was inspired by old English wayside inns but includes Greek Revival and American Colonial architectural styles. The Campbells named it Camelot because it sounded like the couple’s last name.
Initially, the Campbells could not find a contractor willing to build the house because of the unconventional design. A contractor friend, John Hoy, finally agreed to take the job on one condition: Campbell could not reveal who did the work. However, after the house was completed and received praise, Hoy was proud to acknowledge his work.
Financing the project slowed the pace of construction. Because of the design, no bank was willing to give the Campbells a mortgage. Construction continued as money was available.
Except for one wall that is made of two-foot thick limestone, the rest of the house is wood frame with a stucco exterior. The roof has lines that swoop in different directions and a large slope to compensate for the different stories.
The front of the house faces South Fraser Street and extends back into a long extension of two stories on the left side and one story on the right.
The front is divided into two parts. The left side is a low rectangle filled with windows and the porch area. The right-side wall has the roof slope closer to ground level with an arched doorway.
Inside the doorway on the right, is the limestone wall with an opening. The opening contains a baluster, the vertical parts of railings on staircases, from Penn State’s original Old Main.
The interior has the same cottage aesthetic. The living room has high ceilings, white walls, and a grand fireplace. The house is filled with windows to let in the natural light.
When they lived in Camelot, the Campbells liked to share their home with the community. The couple invited guest speakers to discuss subject with students and colleagues. They also hosted fraternity dances and invited fraternity members to the house for meals.
Camelot was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form, 1979.
McDougall, Debbie, “A Life in Camelot.” Town & Gown, May 1993.
First Published: September 28, 2023
Last Modified: December 2, 2023