The Ever-Changing Menagerie: Temple’s Junkyard

Deep in the heart of the North Philadelphia neighborhood that many Temple University students call home is an elephant graveyard of architecture and masonry.  Located on the corner of 16th Street and Montgomery Avenue, this small plot houses many vital pieces that once kept Temple’s campus alive: streetlights, signs, grates, pottery, and much more.

Glenn Eck, Temple University’s Grounds Superintendent, said, “There’s things in there going back to when 1940 [residence hall] was built.”  He explained that there once was a church where 1940 now stands.  With permission from historical societies, they knocked it down to build a new place for students to live on campus.  “The columns and masonry go back to when they took the church down,” said Eck.  He claims he is not even quite sure what this junkyard holds, as it is always changing.

A student grounds worker, Matthew Gilroy, explained, “Some of the things were from the dean’s house.  The streetlights are from the parking lot that Tyler [School of Art] now occupies.”  And now that the Tyler School is on Temple’s main campus, there is no need for the Esther Boyer School of Music, whose sign lies amid this junkyard.

“It’s an ever changing menagerie,” said Eck.  As the campus evolves and undergoes construction, more and more old pieces of masonry may be thrown here.  Passerby do not seem to notice, let alone care, that an eye sore of dilapidated Temple property lie strewn about this tiny lot in the midst of a buzzing campus.

Gilroy headed toward some old grates that once protected tree roots in a park, now overgrown with grass and covered in litter.  “They took those out from where everyone skateboards on Cecil B. Moore.”  Coincidentally, Brian Leddy, a skater at that very skate park, once mentioned that the grates were removed and replaced with rocks to prevent skaters from damaging them.

The tiny junkyard on 16th and Montgomery in North Philadelphia is home to many retired signs and stones that once served great purposes on Temple University’s campus.  Now, it remains a collection of new and old junk that continues to grow and evolve just as the school does.

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