The Mall at Penn State

@font-face { font-family: "Cambria";}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Cambria; }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 10pt; font-family: Cambria; }div.WordSection1 { page: WordSection1; }Also known as Pattee Mall, the Allen Mall and the Allen Street Mall, The Mall is a well-known civic landscape of North American elms west of Old Main that extends from downtown State College to the central entrance of Pattee Library. It is one of Penn State's landmarks and is included in the "Farmers' High School/Penn State Old Campus" complex in the National Register of Historic Places.

Originally a northern extension of Allen Street in downtown State College, The Mall's portion below Pollock Road was closed permanently in 1930, while the upper section was closed in 1939 when construction of Pattee Library began. The elm trees were planted originally between 1880 and 1900. Sadly, Dutch elm disease and more recently elm yellows, a deadly bacteria-like infection for which there is no known cure, have killed several of the elm trees. Penn State's goal is to slow the spread of the disease and ultimately halt it.

Where The Mall borders College Avenue and downtown State College is an iron grill bounded by two stone pillars. The original pillars came from the Pennsylvania exhibit at the St. Louis Exposition of 1904 and were reconstructed in 1916. The iron grill, added in 1930, permanently closed the road.

A Penn State historical marker on The Mall notes the general area where "Old Willow" once stood. It was planted in 1859 by William Waring, professor of horticulture, purportedly as a turning marker for contractors' wagons while the new school's main building was in progress. Waring served as general administrative superintendent before the arrival of Evan Pugh, the first president of Penn State. Revered for its ties to several campus traditions, Old Willow died in 1921 but was replaced multiple times by cuttings grown from it, until disease took the last tree at the spot in 1976.

Farther north along The Mall is the Obelisk, a geologic monument built in 1896 by School of Mines faculty and students and the Pennsylvania building stone industry to demonstrate the weathering qualities of various native Pennsylvania stones. It is the oldest monument on the University Park campus. A pamphlet about the obelisk is available here.

In November 1970 the University's Board of Trustees approved a policy to assure the preservation of The Mall, Old Main lawn, Old Botany Building, the memorial gates to campus, the Obelisk and President Atherton's grave site.

A similar, parallel mall bordering Old Main on the east extends from Pugh Street north to Pollock Road and is often called Henderson Mall because it runs along the front of Henderson Building.  See historical photos of The Mall, with modern photos for comparison, at

This Penn State landmark is part of the iHear Penn State self-guided cell phone campus tour, listed as stop #12.  Accessing iHear Penn State is easy. Dial the tour access number (814-308-5020) on your cell phone and follow the instructions. All stops are listed at


People walk along Pattee Mall on Thursday, Oct. 15, amidst a surprise snowfall, the first of the season, stemming from a wintry mix system moving across the state. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated September 12, 2011