Behind the brick facade and gothic architecture is a building treasured with memories from Temple’s past. Mitten Memorial Hall, commonly known as Mitten Hall, is rich with more than 70 years of history. Built in 1931, the majestic building stands at the corner of Broad and Berks streets. The original site for the building was the corner of Park Avenue (now Liacouras Walk) and Berks Street, the current location of Sullivan Hall, but this area was not yet Temple property. The building is named after Thomas E. Mitten, an employee of the now defunct Philadelphia Rapid Transit, who donated $20,000 to Temple founder Dr. Russell Conwell, when the university was financially unstable.
For years Mitten Hall was the hub of campus. It housed the Student Activities Center from the time of its conception until 1958, complete with a cafeteria on the ground floor and lounges on the first floor. An auditorium on the third floor served as a multipurpose room for dances, plays, meetings and sporting events. Basketball games, wrestling and fencing matches were held there until 1951.
During the spring of 1932, some classes were held on the roof, allowing students to enjoy the view while learning at the same time. Prominent figures such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Carl Sandburg and Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist have spoken at the Great Court in Mitten Hall. Temple alumnus Howie Shapiro said students, faculty and administrators held protests against the war in Vietnam in the hall.
The building is now primarily used for special events, including guest speakers and other ceremonies. It is also home to a variety of student and faculty services. Student Health Services, a student resource for health and sexuality issues, is located on the ground floor. Down the hall is The Diamond Club, a gourmet dining area for faculty, staff, alumni and graduate students. The Great Court and the Owl Cove, entertainment areas for special events, are located on the first floor. The Owl Cove features a TV lounge and café that serves breakfast, salads, wraps and sandwiches. Career Development Services is on the second floor. The third floor auditorium has been converted to The Opera Theater, part of the Boyer School of Music used for rehearsals and special performances.
While Mitten Hall is no longer the campus hot spot, the building shouldn’t be overlooked. It provides beneficial services for students, faculty and staff.
Stephanie Young can be reached at email@example.com.