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OSU Buildings Histories in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Building History

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


In 1898, the Board of Regents voted to construct an armory-gymnasium to better meet the needs of a growing student body. The first large meeting space on campus, the armory was used for physical education programs, the R.O.T.C. program, and was used for commencement ceremonies. In 1910, the armory was renamed the Women's Gymnasium. The name was changed three times before it became what is known today as the Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center: beginning in 1936, the building was known as the Museum Building; in 1951, it became known as the College Playhouse; in 1962, the building was renamed the Mitchell Playhouse, after professor Charles B. Mitchell, the founder of the Department of Speech at OAC. From 1962 until 1991, the name stuck, until the building underwent major renovations to become usable for the gymnastics program. 

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 the OAC Armory 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/OAC Armory. 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.