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If you build it . . .

March 31, 2008

by Cheryl Klimaszewski

A little over sixty years ago, The Triangle presented this article by Edward Miller unveiling, “The New Drexel.” This was the beginning of Drexel's first master plan, often referred to in the records as the Expansion Plan.

Conceived and expanded under the leadership of Drexel Institute president Dr. James Creese, this was the beginning of an incredible period of growth for the Institute, not only physically but also in the cultivation of donors that would make such tremendous expansion possible. In 1947, the campus was desperately in need of additional classroom instruction space, as required by the increasing enrollments in the post-WWII years. The plan also promised a new gymnasium, a new library and additions to Curtis Hall and to the cafeteria in the Student Building.

The basic sciences building was eventually dedicated as Stratton Hall (now at 32nd and Chestnut Sts.), and the former library is now the Korman Center at 15 South 32nd Street. Curtis Hall still stands between 31st and 32nd streets, a few doors to the east of the Main Building on Chestnut Street. The original Student Building was condemned and torn down after an explosion at the nearby Tidewater Grain Elevator (31st and Market Streets).

No Drexel staff or students were hurt in the blast, but the windows in many of the campus buildings were blown out and the Student Building was damaged beyond repair. It was eventually replaced by what is now known as the Creese Student Center at 32nd and Chestnut Streets. 

While the design aesthetics may have changed, the desire to improve the Drexel campus certainly has not; the unveiling of the most recent plans for expansion and improvement of the Drexel campus were reported in the March 7, 2008 issue of The Triangle: Check out an interactive map of Drexel's campus as it currently stands: Read more about the history of Drexel University and learn more about the remarkable Creese presidency (among others) in A History of Drexel University, 1941-1963 by Miriam N. Kotzin (Drexel University, 1983).

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