When discussing physical expansion, administrators always point up. Morgan Hall is now one of the tallest buildings in North Philadelphia — 27 floors of proof that the university’s focus is on its upward-growing campus. But when it comes to maintaining a specific historical piece of campus, administrators need to come back down to earth.
Temple has owned the Burk Mansion — also known as “1500” — at Broad and Jefferson streets since 1971. It housed the School of Social Administration and its Center for Social Policy and Community Development, and was later used for the university’s daycare.
A small fire and tough financial decisions caused the building to close in 1995. But now, as the university invests money — a reported $216 million for Morgan Hall — in constructing new buildings and revamping Main Campus, trustees and university leaders need to create dialogue for a resolution to “1500.”
More than a year ago, The Temple News reported on the state of the Burk Mansion and the university’s lack of a plan to rehabilitate or sell the property. Judging by officials’ recent responses, nothing has changed.
Temple prides itself on its positive impact on the community. The boarded-up mansion is a three-story objection to that claim.
The mansion was once hailed as one of the last great mansions to be built on North Broad Street, serving as a reminder of an era when the neighborhood equated to wealth and prominence. We should embrace that.
Temple’s 20/20 plan includes a campus development principle to “preserve and enhance ‘sacred places’ and those significant organizational features that define the campus.” If this is the case, then the university should direct its perfect vision a few blocks south.