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The history of room 16 in Bart A. Milano Hall

by Todd A. Milano, with input from Karen Weikel ’74 and Jairee Counterman

"My hope is that readers of this article recognize that they are part of a very special long-standing institution of higher education. And that each time they pass Room 16 (in Bart A. Milano Hall), they swell with pride and continue their hard work shaping the lives of our very special students." ~ Todd A. Milano

May 1970: Ground breaking for Central Pennsylvania Business School in Summerdale, Pa. Room 16 is in the initial academic building. Pictured at left is Dale Hildebrand (land owner), Jean P. Milano and Bart A. Milano.

September 1970: The academic building opens for business. Initially room 16 was known as “Reader’s Roost.” Early 1970’s catalogs state: “Reader’s Roost is the student’s room in the academic building for reading – relaxing – studying or individualized instruction. The room, with a library atmosphere, is furnished with sofa, lounge chairs, tables and current literature for reading enjoyment.”

The circa 1972 photograph at right, taken from inside Room 16, shows an unobstructed view of the church on the north side of Valley Road. This is only possible because Bollinger Hall did not yet exist. Alumnus Alvin Bock ’73 ’80 ’04 and 35-year staff member (1980-2015) recalls taking a management class taught by President Bart Milano in this room.

By September 1975, Bollinger Hall opened and Reader’s Roost was moved to room 40 in that building. Room 16 became the office for Donald B. Owen, esquire, dean, academic affairs for one year. By September 1976, room 16 became the office of then President Bart Milano.

From the start, my father Bart’s office had a vintage look and feel with old office equipment from our location on 323 Market Street in Harrisburg. He also displayed some of his numerous eclectic collections, such as autographs, baseball cards, certificates and awards. He interviewed many perspective students while seated at the conference table in this office. On more than one occasion a visiting family would remark that they have an old typewriter sitting at home gathering dust. Later, they returned to Central Penn and donated their office equipment relic.

In 1983, Todd A. Milano was promoted to vice president and moved his office from the business office in the West Wing to room 19 just across the hall from room 16.

April 1989: Bart A. Milano retires in his 20th year of service as Central Penn’s president. The new Central Penn president, Todd A. Milano, embraced his father’s recommendation and set up a completely new president’s office across the then parking lot in Bollinger Hall. What then to do with Bart Milano’s office of antiques?

One of the first projects Todd Milano undertook as Central Penn’s new president was to transition Bart’s office. It seemed logical to make it a museum honoring our institution's many decades located in the heart of the business district in Harrisburg. Pa. Inspired by loyal alumnus Harolld Stahle, Sr. ’24 who, upon hearing the plan shared that he had the original Spirit Duplicator machine from Central Pennsylvania Business College in Harrisburg. Upon his graduation from the Central Pennsylvania Business College, Stahle worked for Central Penn in numerous capacities for twenty years.

Early steps in the transition of Bart’s office included recruiting supporters and players to assist with such things as: thinning the collections; layout and design; soliciting, gathering and cataloguing artifacts from alumni; and retaining labor to execute the plan.

Stahle was our chief (octogenarian) cheerleader. Jairee Jones, chair, office administration, Central Penn, stepped forward to serve as the museum's project coordinator. In the fall of 1989, she and Todd A. Milano met with the Alumni Association to invite their active involvement in the transitioning of room 16 to a museum of Central Penn during its many years in the heart of the business district in Harrisburg. As memorialized in alumni association minutes and Jairee [Counterman] Jones’ November 14, 1989 Presentation notes the Alumni Association was to own the artifacts in the museum and benefit from monies generated by the fundraising campaign to offset conversion costs.

Jones communicated with Ronald C. Webb, president of Design Centre, York, Pa. who offered to provide his expertise in the design phase of our future museum.  Webb was kind enough to provide a lead that ultimately resulted in the sale of numerous typewriters to Thomas Russo, president of Delaware Office Equipment Company, Wilmington, Delaware. The ultimate repository for this equipment was a business machine museum in Kansas City.

A brochure was created and it, along with articles in the alumni newsletter PennDulum, solicited support in the way of memorabilia and money to make this museum dream a reality.

1924 alumnus and 20 year faculty/staff member Harolld Stahle, Sr. allowed us to rescue 1922-1944 Central Penn artifacts from his personal detached garage. Pictured at left is Todd relaxing after he and Jairee emptied out much of Harolld’s garage in New Cumberland on a sunny fall day in November of 1989. Wish we would have rescued the infamous “High Syrup Chair” Harolld used to top off the ice cream served at Central Penn picnics.

Alumna Karen Aldinger Weikel ’74 and 30-year staffer also played a key role. Karen was the glue that held the Alumni Association together for two or more decades beginning in the mid 1970’s. An undated (circa 1990-1992) flyer titled “Welcome to the beginnings’ of our Alumni Museum” read in part:

“Purpose of our museum…Central Pennsylvania Business College played an important part in the lives of thousands of young people from the central Pennsylvania area… the impact of all these graduates… not only to our community, but to the entire state and indeed the country, has been of major proportions. All those grads from 1922 to 1969 (when we were located in central Harrisburg), are vital to your history. We wish to cement our mutual relationship by preserving the ambiance and significant artifacts — machines, books, photos, and other items — that were vital to this period.”