October 23, 2016
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Landmark Temple Building That Hosted MLK Jr., Re-Opens After 30 Years




The Baptist Temple at Temple University will serve as a new cultural center for the campus and community

PHILADELPHIA, -- The Baptist Temple, built in 1891 as a home for Temple University founderRussell Conwell's congregation, has hosted some of the country's most prominent intellectual and political figures throughout its history, including Martin Luther King Jr., President Franklin D. RooseveltMargaret MeadAnne Sullivan andHelen Keller.  After sitting empty for the last 30 years, it will reopen to the public April 14, 2010, after undergoing an extensive renovation and restoration.  The 36,000 square foot building will serve as a center for arts and cultural performances, as well as a setting for corporate and private meetings, symposia, and events.

"We are thrilled to breathe new life into The Baptist Temple, converting it to a fully equipped, state-of-the-art technical facility," said Charles Bethea, Executive Director of The Baptist Temple at Temple University. "The Temple serves as a monument to the growing vitality of our community, offering the University and our neighbors opportunities for deeper engagement with an exciting new mix of arts and ideas."

The area of North Broad Street around the University's campus has been experiencing a revitalization, and the restoration and renovation of The Baptist Temple will now anchor the north end of the Avenue of the Arts with a calendar of dynamic events and concerts in a stunning, historic space.


Russell H. Conwell, the University's founder, started teaching impromptu classes at night to young men who could not afford an education on their own.  His pupils were dubbed the "night owls," and the University's classes were held at The Baptist Temple from 1891 to 1894, as well as the first Commencement in 1892.

Designated as a Landmark Building by the American Institute of Architects and certified as a Historical Building by the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the architecture firm RMJM worked to meticulously preserve the building's historic features, from the iconic Rose Window to the Chapel of the Four Chaplains.  Many of the aspects of the 119-year old building, empty for the last three decades, had fallen into disrepair.  For example, 140 windows were recreated and restored to their original condition.


The Baptist Temple will offer a season of programming beginning in April 2010 including concerts, theatre, dance, education programming, and other dynamic events. With 1200 seats overlooking Lew Klein Hall, audiences will enjoy the "theater in the round" style, with vaulted ceilings and superior acoustics.


With 36,000 square feet and four unique spaces, The Baptist Temple can be wonderfully used for receptions, corporate, community and University meetings, weddings, film screenings and graduations.  The flexible, distinctive spaces feature restored historical elements, such as striking stained glass windows and original wood and iron work.

Lew Klein Hall is adaptable for a wide variety of events and performances, with high ceilings, state of the art technical support, and magnificent stained glass windows.  The thrust stage extends into the theatre, bringing programs and performers closer to the audience seated on three sides.

The historic Chapel of the Four Chaplains, which can accommodate a seated event for up to 130 guests, also features a new separate street entrance. Dedicated by President Harry Truman in 1951, the Chapel is named for the four military chaplains who gave their lifejackets to save others on the USS Dorchester, torpedoed off the coast of Greenland during World War II.

The mezzanine and entry of The Baptist Temple may also be used for events. The Mezzanine offers guests striking views of both Lew Klein Hall and the building's signature Rose Window. The majestic entry opens onto Broad Street.

The Baptist Temple is one of the projects in the plan to make Broad Street the focal point of Temple University, a part of the University's recognition of its 125th anniversary.  


SOURCE The Baptist Temple at Temple University 


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