Who Was “Otto,” Anyway?
On Sunday, I stopped in an open house in our State College neighborhood, curious what I’d find. Most of the houses in our area, about a mile south of campus, were built in the 1950s. This one is being sold by the adult children of the late owners, who, it was immediately clear, had taken great care of their home.
I was admiring how well-kept the house was when I noticed something out of place: What looked to be a door where there wasn’t, in fact, a doorway. I asked the realtor about it, and she explained: It was the original decorative door from Otto’s, the on-campus cafe (not to be confused with the State College brew-pub) inside the Kern Building. Turns out the original owners of the house were Otto and Charlotte Mueller, and that Otto was Penn State’s first assistant vice president for Housing and Food Services from 1953 until his retirement in 1978 (he died in 2007, and Charlotte passed in 2010). The door, which I’m kicking myself for not having taken a picture of, appeared to be hand-painted, including a portrait of a smiling Mr. Mueller and the cafe’s daily hours.
From the basement workroom to what appeared to be the original cabinetry, it was obvious that Otto Mueller took good care of the place. I’m guessing that, under his watch, Housing and Food Services was similarly well maintained.
Ryan Jones, senior editor