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OSU Buildings Histories in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Building History

A black and white image of the Mitchell Playhouse, now known as the Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center.

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 gymnastics program and, in 1915 was renamed the Women's Gymnasium. When the women's gymnastics program was moved to the Women's Building, and the building saw a variety of 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. In honor of the late Charles B. Mitchell, who established the Department of Speech, the then-named College Playhouse was renamed the Mitchell Playhouse in 1961. The building was minimally maintained in the course of the following years until it fell into poor-enough repair that it was renovated in 1991 to become the gymnastics center in use today. 

General Information


1701 SW Jefferson Way


Edgar M. Lazarus

Year Built



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 to a gymnasium, to be used for the women's gymnastics program

Square Footage

35,871 sq ft


Primarily used for theatre and dramatics, staging for university theatre productions

Previous Name(s)

OAC Armory (until 1910); Women's Gymnasium (until 1936); the Museum Building (until 1951); College Playhouse (until 1962)

Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center (after 1991)


Charles B. Mitchell - founder of the Department of Speech at OAC

Historic District

Yes; contributing building


Oregon State University Memorabilia Collection, Box 29, Folder 4


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


Oregon State University Historical Photographs, 1868-1980

Further Archival Information

Oregon Digital: a search for Mitchell Playhouse yields hundreds of results, many of them photos and university periodicals. 

SCARC: The Oregon State University Memorabilia Collection and the News and Communication Services Records include subject files about the Mitchell Playhouse. 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.