Looking at the official campus map of Temple University, you would never know where or what Burk Mansion is. Where Burk should be, at the corner of Jefferson and Broad street (6, G), there is instead an empty, grey block. Despite being owned and operated by Temple, Burk Mansion is not a part of campus. This isn’t too surprising. If the building currently holds no function for students or faculty, what is the purpose of keeping it on the map? However, its exclusion portends the collective forgetting, not just about the history or significance of the building, but of the building’s existence itself.
Over the course of its history as a part of Temple’s campus, Burk mansion has appeared and disappeared from the map. Temple purchased Burk Mansion in 1970. The next year the building appeared on the campus map. Well, a mention of the map appeared. At the base of the map (which ends at Oxford Street), an arrow points beyond the boundary and reads “School of Social Administration 1500 N Broad”.
An actual depiction of the building appears on the 1973 map. From this point, Burk either appears in actuality or with a mention just beyond the frame of the map. It is often referred to as 1500 N Broad, University Day Care, or the Center for Social Policy and Community Development. It is never referred to as “Burk Mansion” or “Alfred E Burk House”. The selection of maps archived at the Special Collections Research Center is sporadic, but thankfully they have maps from one of the most pivotal years in Burk Mansion’s history with Temple.
In June of 1994, Temple announced the closing of the day care center. After a summer of protests and pushback from the community, the day care officially closed in August. However, it seems like this decision occured after the Temple Welcome broucher for the 1994/1995 academic year was designed and printed. On the map in this brouchure, a numeric marker (11) stands where Burk should and is labeled as the University day care.
Knowing that the day care was in the process of closing down as this brochure was being circulated at the start of a new semester makes the mansion’s partial inclusion on the map highly symbolic. While the building is referenced, its visage isn’t represented. It is positioned on the very border of the map, as close to the edge as possible. Even the way in which the color at the border of the frame fades to white fortells the dissolution of the association of the building and the unviersity.
There are no additional maps from the 1990s in the SCRC archives. However, it is safe to say that if this wasn’t the last inclusion of Burk, it probably disappeared soon after. The question remains if Burk Mansion will ever regain enough importance to the university to make its way back onto our campus map.