Joseph V. Labolito / Temple University
After 30 years of dormancy and $30 million in renovations, the Baptist Temple officially reopened its 119 year-old doors on Wednesday, April 14.
Mayor Michael Nutter was on hand to celebrate the rebirth of the historic building at an event that included jubilant dancing and musical performances by the Temple University Concert Choir, Jazz ensemble and others. Speakers on the program included Nutter, Temple Board of Trustees Chair Patrick J. O'Connor, Temple President Ann Weaver Hart and School of Communications and Theater student Malcolm Kenyatta. A reception followed the program in the building's main lobby and lower level.
An iconic structure at the university, the historic place of worship has been repurposed into a special event venue. It was built in 1891 for Temple University founder Russell Conwell's congregation, and was the inspiration for the university's name. In the renovation process, building planners took pains to stay true to original architect Thomas P. Lonsdale’s vision while updating the building for modern use.
The 36,000 square foot building, which can accommodate 1,300 in its central space, Lew Klein Hall, will host screening, lectures, symposia, commencement ceremonies and private events. Once host to renowned speakers such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Margaret Mead, Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller, the Temple will begin a new chapter in its history as a season of entertainment launches on April 24 with a performance from the Mendelssohn Club Chorus. Other upcoming performances include the Temple University Chorus, the Temple University Percussion Ensemble, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and Philadanco.
"The Baptist Temple is a treasure, not only for Temple University but also for Philadelphia," said Temple president Ann Weaver Hart. "Now it will again be the site of artistic and cultural performances, host eminent leaders of our time and draw the members of the Temple community together for important university occasions."
Posted Apr 15, 2010 -- admin