Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

Developing Tomorrow's Leaders

North Hall Past and Present: A Virtual Tour

A Tour of North Hall

Scott DiMarco takes us on a virtual tour of Historic North Hall in at Mansfield University in Mansfield Pennsylvania. Along the way he tells some interesting facts and legends about this amazing piece of history. Vintage video and photographs are included in this rare look at the present North Hall.


Into the Nooks and Crannies of Historic North Hall

Did you know that originally, North Hall was designed to be one of the tallest buildings on the Eastern seaboard? Scott Dimarco shows Dennis Miller the rare, original design drawings. They then take a historic trip into the nooks and crannies of the attic, basement, and old student quarters.


Facts about North Hall

Mansfield University

Merging three libraries into one, the first four floors of North Hall now serve as the main library for Mansfield University and numerous communities throughout the region. Reopened in September of 1996, the library provides a unique blend of Victorian-era architecture and state-of-the-art technology. Although it is a building from the past, it is truly a library of the future. This "virtual tour" is designed to provide you with an overview of some of the key architectural features of North Hall as well as some of the many resources and services available.

Tour Highlights by Floor/Wing

[History]   [2nd Floor South]   [The Well / Atrium]   [2nd FLoor North]   [1st Floor South]   

[3rd Floor South]   [3rd Floor North]   [4th Floor South]   [4th Floor North]   [Beyond the walls...]   [Credits]

North Hall History

North Hall

North Hall was completed in 1878. You can compare the original (shown above) with the proposed changes (shown here; click for text) which began in the mid-1890s. The project was not completed until about 1908 and some of the architectural features from this drawing were never incorporated in the building.

Residents could sit comfortably in their rooms and watch their classmates play tennis.The building of Memorial Hall in the late 1960s, though, angered tennis players and others by the score. Voicing the concerns of many, one particularly upset faculty member wrote a letter-to-the-editor of The Flashlight -- the campus newspaper.

North Hall

For years, the upper floors served as a woman's dormitory while the ground floor served as the cafeteria. While other buildings on campus were built or renovated, North Hall deteriorated.

North Hall Cafeteria

The building was closed in 1975 and there was considerable discussion about tearing the dilapidated building down. But, pressure from numerous campus and community leaders stayed the building's demise. Today, the building is a showcase for libraries, the campus, and the region.

Second Floor South

North Hall

Entrance of North Hall

The entrance to the library opens onto the northern end of the student plaza. Automatic doors make the library accessible to all. Hours and other announcements flank the entrance.

Entrance of North Hall
wooden arch

In the foyer, visitors will see a wooden arch to their left. Stored away and nearly forgotten, the arch was retrieved and provides an "architectural focal point" for the entire building. The inscription reads:

Semi-Centennial Memorial
Character, Scholarship, Culture, Service
State Normal School
Mansfield, PA

As you walk through North Hall, you will see the arch motif in the furniture, the carpeting, the doorways, and more. Cherry -- the wood from which the arch is carved -- can also be seen throughout.

The Traditional Reading Room

Traditional Reading Room The Traditional Reading Room provides a beautiful room for receptions and meetings. It also houses a variety of works on local and regional history as well as information on university history, including a complete set of the Carontawan   -- the yearbook of Mansfield University. Traditional Reading Room

The Circulation Desk

Circulation DeskFrom a functional standpoint, the Circulation Desk is the key feature of the south wing of the second floor. As the name implies, this area handles the circulation of library materials. Among other things, you can check-out/return books, check on reserved items, get change, and pick up items you may have ordered via inter-library loan.

A message board and campus TV (at the extreme south end of the Circulation Desk area) provide updated information about library and campus-wide services and activities.

We know none of you taking this tour will have to worry about doing so, but, if someone you know needs to pay a fine or fee, this can also be taken care of at the Circulation Desk.

Navigational Information

floor plan

Just outside the Traditional Reading Room, there is a floor plan (1st & 2nd and 3rd & 4th) of the entire library and some brochures which provide useful information about the library, its resources, and the services offered. Additional guides and brochures on a variety of topics can be found near the elevators on each floor, in the Reference Room, and on the library's homepage. For your convenience, a library phone directory and a suggestion box -- with responses -- are also located here.

Original Porches

Original Porches

Spacious porches can be found on both wings of the 1st and 2nd floors. They provided ideal vantage points for events like commencement as well as opportunities to be with friends.

Original Porches

Renovated Porches

Renovated Porches

Although the porch areas have since been enclosed, they still provide an opportunity to make new friends. Oh...and they are also extremely comfortable places to study!

Renovated Porches

Current Bestsellers Collection

The Baker-Taylor collection -- a collection of current bestsellers and other "popular" works rounds out the south wing of the 2nd floor.

Current Bestsellers Collection

The $11 million needed to restore the building was made possible by a combination of state appropriation and private fundraising. There were no single gifts of more than $250,000 -- atypical of most major fundraising efforts yet symbolic of the community's spirit and "dogged determination." Plaques bearing the names of donors are located on the east wall, opposite the Baker-Taylor collection.

The "Well" or "Atrium"

Old Atrium

The Past

The "well" or "atrium" (as it is commonly referred to today), is an impressive feature in its own right. Spanning six floors, it forms the central, vertical corridor of the building.

The ground floor often served as a reception room. Sara, a legendary Mansfield student, is rumored to have fallen over one of the railings, plummeting to her death. Because of or in spite of Sara, the atrium was closed in the 1930s because of fire and safety concerns.

Old Atrium

The Present

Despite these changes, the view from on high is still dizzying. Donated by the library staff, a stone dias of the symbol of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania sits at the base of the atrium.

stone dias

However, waterless pipes and electromagnetic firedoors incorporated into the new building allowed architects to open the atrium and capture the magnificence of this imposing feature. In the event of a fire, the "smart alarm" directs water to the fire. In addition, the closed doors open and the open doors close to better regulate air flow and safety personnel.

security door

Second Floor North

Information Desk

Reference Collection

The Reference Room's double-pillared columns are a tribute to the original architecture of the building. As you enter the room, research and/or computer assistance is available at the Information and Computer Assistants' Desks.

Reference Room

First Floor South

First Floor South

Home of the Music Collection

The south wing of the first floor was designed with music students in mind. Housing the library's collection of music books and scores, the area also has several carrels with CD players, allowing students to listen while they learn.

Several private listening rooms, complete with a variety of audio equipment, provide students with additional opportunities to study and listen to music. A keyboard even allows them to practice.

listening room viewing room

A 20-seat, theatre-like viewing room allows students to watch films and other presentations by their professors and fellow students.

Third Floor South

Periodical Collection

Periodical Collection

Whether it's reading current periodicals or spreading materials out for a study session, the quantity and variety of seating arrangements has made the south wing of the third floor a student favorite.

Third Floor North

Microfilm Room

The book stacks begin here for books with call numbers A-HV1331.

The Microfilm Room and Newspaper Reading Room can be found off the atrium in the east and west wings respectively.

Newspaper Reading Room

Fourth Floor South

Private study room

The fourth floor houses books with call numbers PR3476-Z.

Private study rooms are available for faculty and students alike in the east wing.

Fourth Floor North

Books with call numbers HV1416 - PR3474 are housed in this wing.

The fourth floor classroom connects the past with the future -- literally. More than 20 ports, outlets, and wireless capability provide access to the campus computer network. The room is used by librarians to provide library instruction for various classes across the curricula.

fourth floor classroom

Beyond the walls...

In today's information-rich world "access" not "ownership" is the key. To that end, in addition to nearly 50 standalone computer workstations, over 400 ports, outlets and wireless capability throughout the library -- virtually anywhere there's a seat -- provide access to the world of networked information and applications.


In addition, each wing of each floor incorporates a variety of technologies and study areas as a way of accommodating each user's unique learning style and needs.

The MU Library Catalog (PILOT) and the numerous databases, some of which provide full text online, are the research workhorses of the library.

Courtesy phones

Courtesy phones are located near each elevator, the phones can be used to call the Information Desk where questions can be answered directly or assistance can be dispatched.


A special thanks to Mansfield University sociology professor Dr. Gale Largey and his book Life at Mansfield: A Visual Reminiscence (1984) from which the historical text and photos were taken.