Discovery at Boal Mansion uncovers new details of Boalsburg, Penn State’s history

Local News

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Boal Mansion Museum sits in the heart of Centre County. It’s a historical epicenter, with hundreds of thousands of artifacts from pivotal moments in religion, Christopher Columbus’s expeditions, World Wars, and even top fashion designers.

Still, Museum Director Bob Cameron is discovering more… in previously locked treasure trunks and even underground.

One day, he was doing maintenance work on the grounds in a wet cellar.

“I noticed this pile of materials,” said Cameron. “Now, who would ever expect it would be something of value in this wet, wet cellar, and as I look closer, here were over 200 original drawings of Colonel Boal, something I had long looked for.”

Colonel Theodore Boal was an Army officer and architect in the late 1890s, early 1900s. His diverse designs were used across the country.

One design, seen in University Park, is a landmark recognized around the world.

“A pride and joy of all Penn Staters is Old Main,” said Cameron. “We have this on cloth, the actual design from Colonel Boal, of Old Main’s Terrace.” 

The terrace still stands today.

His renderings, carefully drawn on linen, led to the discovery of Boalsburg’s original town hall, which is now the fire hall. Blueprints outline sections of the Boal Estate.

The designs will continue to be studied, and as for the rest of the 200 drawings, Cameron said they’re safe and being preserved.

“We’ve placed these drawings now in our archival vault so that they can be properly cared for and no longer in a wet, damp cellar,” said Cameron.

He expects the new exhibit featuring some of these drawings, to open in late September.

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