That voice wouldn’t (898-)MELT butter


illustration by Bo Brown

Dear Benny,
Who is the voice of the 898-MELT line and why does he always sound so miserable?
— Early Riser

Dear Morning Person,
I spoke with the voice of 898-MELT to answer your question. I am keeping his name confidential in the interest of preserving his sanity—enough Penn people know who he is already and call him at home at the first sign of snow asking, “Do you think we’ll be closed tomorrow?”

As for the sound of his voice: “Sometimes the recording’s done at 4 a.m.,” he said. “Wouldn’t you be miserable then?” More seriously, he tries to maintain a somber demeanor because, as he put it, “Nobody wants the University to stay open. People see snow, they want the day off.” And as anyone who’s been around here a while knows, the University only closes for the most severe storms.

However, the voice of 898-MELT promises he will try to sound happier next time.

Dear Benny,
Has Eisenlohr Hall always been the official University President’s residence?
— Mansion Maven

Dear House-Hunter,
No. Eisenlohr Hall, built in 1912 as the home of a local cigar magnate, was converted into the official home for our President in the early 1980s.
But we did have an earlier official residence for our top officer—a stately house at 4037 Pine Street which we purchased in 1915 for use as the Provost’s official residence. It served in that capacity and as a facility for conferences and official functions until 1961. Penn sold the house, which still stands, in 1968.

Got a question for Benny? You can ask Benny about benefits, worklife issues, University history or trivia, or other matters pertaining to life at Penn. Send it via e-mail to or via regular mail to the Current, 200 Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106. A Current coffee mug goes to those whose questions we publish.

Originally published on January 29, 2004