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OSU Buildings Histories in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Building History

 

To meet the needs of a growing student body, the Board of Regents decided to erect an armory-gymnasium on the southwest corner of the campus in 1898. After being used for several years, the armory-gymnasium was remodeled in 1910 to be used exclusively for the gymnastic program and, in 1915, was renamed the Women's Gymnasium. When the women's gymnastics program was moved to the Women's Building, the gymnasium saw several uses between 1926 and 1933. IN 1933, the first floor of the building was remodeled to house collections for the College Museum, while continuing to be used by the R.O.T.C. Band program and the Oregon State Symphony Orchestra. In 1950, the building was renovated, converting it from a museum to a theater, later named the Mitchell Playhouse. The building was minimally maintained in the following years until it fell into poor repair, prompting its renovation.

General Information

Address

1701 SW Jefferson Way

Architect

Edgar M. Lazarus; major renovations by Bear, McNeil, Schneider, Bloodworth, and Hawes

Year Built

1898

Renovations

1910: armory-gymnasium renovated to be used exclusively for the gymnastics program

1933: renovated to be used as the university museum

1950: converted from a museum to a theater

1963: feasibility study underway for renovation

1991: converted from a theater back into a gymnasium, to be used for the women's gymnastics program

Square Footage

35, 871 sq ft

Purpose/Usage

Training grounds for the OSU Women's Gymnastics team

Previous Name(s)

OAC Armory (until 1910)

Women's Gymnasium (until 1936)

Museum Building (until 1951)

College Playhouse (until 1962)

Mitchell Playhouse (until 1991)

Namesake

Gladys Valley - philanthropist and OSU grad

Historic District

Yes; contributing building

Blueprints

Blueprints for the OAC Armory and the Mitchell Playhouse can be found in the Oregon State University Memorabilia Collection, Box 29, Folder 4

Maps

Facilities Services Records, 1888-2003. Series XX:  Campus, Farm, and Property Maps, 1899-1990. Campus and Farm Maps: 3-A

Oregon State University Campus Maps, 1894-1994

Photographs

Oregon State University Historical Photographs, 1868-1980

Further Archival Information

Note: Due to the relatively recent renovation and renaming of the building, the Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center has little specific information in archival form.

Oregon Digital: A search for the Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center yields several results, including historical photos of the Mitchell Playhouse/OAC Armory, as well as interior photos of the renovated Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center, and coverage in university periodicals.

SCARC: SCARC: The Oregon State University Memorabilia Collection and the News and Communication Services Records include subject files about the Mitchell Playhouse/OAC Armory/Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center. In addition, the University Theatre Photographs collection, the James G. Arbuthnot Photograph Collection, the Diane Nicholson Photographs, the President's Office Photographs, the Oregon State University Military Photographs Collection, and the Robert W. Henderson Photographic Slides Collection all include photos of the interior and exterior of the Mitchell Playhouse/OAC Armory/Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center. 

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