A Walking History of Campus

Paul Robeson Library

The intersection of Penn and Fourth streets by the Paul Robeson Library in the mid-to-late ’70s next to a picture of the same spot today—with Cal Maradonna on the right.

By Sam Starnes

There was a time, Cal Maradonna says, when cars on Fourth Street emerged from the tunnel under the footings of the Ben Franklin Bridge and drove right past the steps of the Paul Robeson Library, which had opened a few years earlier in 1970. Maradonna SBC’74, GSBC’79, who arrived as a first-year student in 1969 and joined the university in 1974 as coordinator of student activities, has served on staff for most of the years since. “It’s amazing how much campus has changed,” says Maradonna, who has held several positions, including his current role as director of an off-campus bachelor’s degree program for the School of Business–Camden, where he also teaches.

Johnson Park Library Building

Maradonna on the steps of the Johnson Park Library Building in 1975.

He began giving campus tours in the ’80s and continues to do so when asked, pointing out details such as where sections of Fourth and Penn streets—both of which ran through what is now the campus quad—have long since closed and been converted to green space and walkways. He shows you the grassy spot adjacent to the Ayer Mansion—the historic stone-faced building that for years was the business office and now houses Admissions—where a stable house stood that had been converted into a bookstore. And up Lawrence Street, he points to the site of a long-gone bar called The Grill. His starting point for his tour is perhaps his favorite spot on campus: Johnson Park, the university’s lovely garden-like setting that has been restored in recent years around the one hundred-year-old Cooper Branch Free Public Library building. He tells you that the park is home to one of only seven castings in the world—and the only one in the United States—of a Peter Pan statue commissioned by the story’s author, J.M. Barrie.

Maradonna’s campus tour now includes many new developments, such as the new Nursing and Science Building across Federal Street from Camden City Hall, and the site on the corner of Fifth and Market where a new home for the School of Business will rise in future years. “This is not the same campus it was in 1969,” Maradonna says. “It’s ever-changing.”

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