A Hospital in the Highlands

Source: Doctor Grover’s Hospitals, by Jo Chesworth,  Town & Gown, September 1971

Two hospitals existed in the early days of State College. One, the Glenn Hospital, opened in the Highlands in 1926 at 249 S. Pugh Street (photo).

Dr. Grover C. Glenn and his brother, Dr. William S. “Billie” Glenn, Jr. first opened The Glenn Sanitarium, a 12-bed hospital, on West College Avenue, in 1919 after Grover returned from World War I. For three years, they delivered babies and cared for medical and surgical patients at the West College Avenue location. “(T)he two doctors could not simultaneously manage the hospital and care for patients, so in 1922 Glenn Sanitarium was sold to Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.”

Highlands Hospital

After the sale of the Glenn Sanitarium, “Grover Glenn still believed that State College should have a hospital of its own. By 1926 he had opened the Glenn Hospital at 249 South Pugh Street (across from Days Inn Penn State). Two nurses managed it for him while he divided his time between the hospital and his office in the new Glenn Building on East College Avenue.” 

“According to . . . Frank Neusbaum, professor emeritus of theatre arts at Penn State, the Pugh Street Hospital was a highly personal place. ‘When my wife was in labor I was given a gown to put on and was allowed to sit with her. Then Doctor Glenn sent one of the nurses on an errand and I ended up being the anesthetist! But the women were well cared for. Why, after my wife and baby came home, the baby cried so much that Dr. Glenn took her back to the hospital for a week so we could get some rest.’”

“However, one of the nurses who managed the hospital for Dr. Glenn was killed in an automobile accident. This, combined with the 1929 stock-market crash, evidently caused the Pugh Street Hospital to close its doors forever. ‘I know it was no longer in existence in June 1930,’ said Frank Neusbaum, ‘because my wife had another baby then and she was born at Centre County Hospital in Bellefonte, even though Grover Glenn was still our doctor.’”

“According to those who knew him, Grover Glenn was a clean-cut, charming gentleman with a pleasant bedside manner. His brother Billie, a robust man who was hard of hearing, specialized in ailments of the eye, ear, nose, and throat, while Grover was a general practitioner. The two men were the sons of Mary Henderson Glenn and Dr. William S. Glenn Sr., State College’s first resident physician. . . . William Glenn, Sr. had his office in his home, a white frame house built in the 1880s in the 100 block of South Pugh Street. . . . The elder Dr. Glenn discouraged his son Grover . . . from becoming a doctor, so the boy graduated from Penn State in 1906 with a degree in mining engineering. However, following a bad accident at a coal mine where Grover worked in Wilkes-Barre, the old man gave his son permission to enroll in a college of eclectic medicine in New York City, evidently believing that medicine was a safer occupation than mining.”

In her 1971 Town & Gown article, Jo Chesworth quotes Dr. Grover Glenn’s son, Bob Glenn, an Altoona air-conditioning and refrigeration salesman, “Dad was a kind man and I never knew him to say anything against anyone. He either spoke well of a person or didn’t speak at all. He helped a great many people in a great many ways that will probably never surface. . . . He said smoking was the cause of most lung problems back in the late twenties. . . . He felt that heart problems of the day were brought about by proteins and carbohydrates . . . . He predicted the end of college boxing long before the colleges even thought about it. The longer I live the smarter he gets!”

Jo Chesworth concludes her Town & Gown article with a quote from Dr. Grover Glenn, “It seems to the majority of people that a hospital should exist, not for a certain class or group of people, but for the benefit of humanity at large.”

This article summarizes a longer piece about State College by Jo Chesworth.  Jo was a State College treasure.  She arrived in State College in  the 1950s as an undergraduate student at Penn State, where she served as editor of The Daily Collegian.  After graduation, she held positions at WPSX-TV (now WPSU), Barash Advertising, and the Penn State Alumni Association.  Over her long career as a local historian, she had more than 240 historical articles published in Town and Gown and The Penn Stater along with many theater reviews, technical papers, and other publications.  In 1996, she authored Story of the Century, a detailed history of State College people and places, in honor of the community’s 100th anniversary.

Jo died on April 13, 2019.  Here is a link to her obituary.