Ivy Leaf - Spring 2007

Penn State Altoona and ABCD Corp. Announce Downtown Venture


[Read the companion story about Don and Nancy Devorris]

Penn State Altoona began its relationship with downtown Altoona on September 13, 1939, when the Altoona Undergraduate Center opened in the downtown Webster Grade School Building. The freshman class of 119 commuter students was taught by nine faculty members. In 1940, the citizen's committee was reorganized into an Advisory Board for the Center. The Board raised another $3,000 for a second downtown building, Madison, to make room for sophomore science courses. In 1947, the college's current location at Ivyside Park was purchased to accommodate increased enrollments as a result of returning World War II veterans. Penn State Altoona did not have a downtown presence for the next five decades.

The approaching new millennium saw Penn State Altoona's return to the downtown when, in 1999, the college leased the Downtown Conference Center, formerly the Playhouse Theater, in downtown Altoona. Managed by the Continuing Education & Training Office, programs and courses for individuals, businesses, and the community were offered.

Soon thereafter, the entire continuing education and training operation relocated to downtown Altoona and the Conference Center was purchased by the college in 2005. In 2007, the center was renamed the Devorris Downtown Center to honor the philanthropy of Donald and Nancy Devorris.

On April 19, 2007, Penn State Altoona announced its newest venture in downtown Altoona—the leasing of the five-story building [formerly known as the Penn Furniture Building] next to the Devorris Downtown Center from the ABCD Corporation. The fifteen-year lease will provide the college with the option to purchase the facility during the duration of the lease.

Initially, this space will be used to provide additional space for current and future programs and facilities provided by the college's Continuing Education and Training Office, which will relocate into this building from its current downtown location. Plans also include the development of an Entrepreneurial Training Center.

Initial redevelopment plans include renovation of the basement and first and second floors. As additional space requirements are identified or as other opportunities become available, the third, fourth, and fifth floors will be renovated.