Nearly everyone who crowded into the spacious atrium of the newly renovated Mitchell Center last Friday afternoon (April 19) held a red sports pennant that read “Lou’s Team.” During the dedication of the building, they waved them in honor of the late Louis A. Mitchell ’57, the Denison alumnus, trustee, and loyal benefactor for whom the building is named.
It was a bittersweet day. Mitchell made the lead gift for the construction of the Mitchell Center in 1994 and for the current renovation and expansion, but he died last summer before seeing the project come to completion. And although Mitchell wasn’t there for the emotional dedication, he was well represented by several dozen members of his family. “The Mitchell Center was a dream of my father’s for many years,” Judy Mitchell Heffernan ’84 told the group that had gathered to celebrate both the facility and the donors who made it possible, “and I know that he would be incredibly proud if he were here today.”
Even though its doors are open, the Mitchell Center renovation isn’t quite complete. Construction will continue throughout the summer on the project’s final phase, including the new Crown Fitness Center, named for lead donor Janet Crown ’85. But much of the building is already in use, highlighted by the expansive Trumbull Aquatics Center, the new home to the Big Red men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams named for lead donors Scott Trumbull ’70 and his wife Margy.
Also with this expansion, the Varsity D Association Hall of Fame and Denison’s All-Americans have found their permanent homes. In addition, now up and running is “The Red Zone,” a high-tech interactive experience in the building’s new atrium featuring three 50-inch touch-screen plasma displays that present a comprehensive history of Big Red athletics, including timelines, vintage and current photos, and archived records, stats, and a searchable virtual Hall of Fame.
In that digital trove are plenty of photos of Lou Mitchell, a Denison Hall of Famer in his own right, accompanied by numerous references to his record-setting career as a Big Red basketball player. A favorite picture is one in which he’s stretching up to sink a shot against Ohio Wesleyan — his No. 8 jersey in full view. Though Mitchell is gone, he’ll always be a part of this place, and a replica of his No. 8 jersey will be permanently displayed in the new Varsity D Room that overlooks Livingston Gymnasium, the court that Lou once called home.