Source: “Still Standing Tall” Nadine Kofman, Town & Gown, June 2018.(Excerpted by the Hearts in the Highlands editors, with permission of Town and Gown.)
Although the Glennland Building is on the north side of Beaver Avenue, it is officially part of The Highlands. The Glennland became part of the Highlands Historic District because of some forward-thinking person (or persons) who set up the district in the late 1990s. They recognized the historic value of the Glennland, and although it was north of the rest of the Highlands border, they decided to jump over to the north side of Beaver Avenue just to include the Glennland Building.
The five-story Glennland Building on East Beaver Avenue at South Pugh Street is currently being turned into an extended–stay hotel. It will have seventy-two rooms, a bistro, meeting spaces, and a fitness center. Its façade is not expected to change, nor will, of course, its historic place as State College’s first apartment building, its first “high-rise.” The name has been changed to the Scholar Hotel State College; it is owned by the Scholar Hotel Group, which also owns Hyatt Place State College.
For the first time in most of its 87-year history-making life, the Glennland Building will not be owned by the Campbell family. It’s a tough change over for the Campbells. The family became owners a few years after the Glennland opened in l933. R. Paul Campbell and Henry Elder bought the building; Elder subsequently sold his share to his partner in 1950 and opened his insurance agency in the trim little house which stood next door.
“An effort has always been made to make the building a credit to the community,” says State College attorney Richard L. Campbell, a son of one of the original purchasers. “The property has been landscaped several times, the last time in 2009,” adds his sister, Nancy Campbell Slagle, the long-time building manager.
For 40 years, the Glennland Building was the tallest building in State College. It brought to town the first public elevator. It was heralded loudest for its impressive underwater-lighted, 40–foot-by–90–foot swimming pool, whose colorful mosaic tiles went on to brighten office spaces in that part of the building after the pool was closed in 1968.
Builder and businessman Orlando (O. W.) Houts—a partner in the Glennland venture with physician and fellow building namesake Grover Glenn—liked to recall that, during construction, humorist Will Rogers and aviator Wiley Post “were in the area and came to see the swimming pool we were building.” Another flier—Sherm Lutz, local aviation pioneer—would live in one of the forty apartments.
Judge R. Paul Campbell, who served Centre County from 1957 to 1977, passed Glennland ownership down to his children and, now, his grandchildren. While family members would also be renters, one early couple was probably part of a different family: Mac Allen Campbell, an employee of the U. S Department of Agriculture, and his wife Marvel. Other renters were Penn State economics professor Ruth E. Graham and State College High School English teacher Elizabeth Murrow (Nadine Kofman notes, “I had her in the ninth grade”). Poet Theodore Roethke was a later tenant.
Early offices had physician Clara B. Owens, Garey Beauty Salon, Hartman & Sellers Electric Appliances, and Justice of the Peace William P. Bell. Later businesses included Glennland Dairy Lunch, Wolf’s Floral Shop, and Campus Saddle School (a riding academy, at the back). Physician James M. Campbell, Jr. (R. Paul’s brother) came later, and long-term storefronts were occupied by the Music Room and WMAJ radio. Over the years other tenants included Dill & Stanton accountants, orthodontist Robert P. Campbell (brother of Dick Campbell and Nancy Slagle), and Justice of the Peace Clifford C. Yorks.
“A few years ago, I knew retired people living there. Now, residents are generally Penn State graduate students and some young professionals,” recounted Nadine Kofman in her 2018 article.
The Glennland Swimming Pool remained in the building for more than thirty years. It was well known by locals, families who had been here for some time, and older Penn State graduates. Before Penn State had its own facilities, the Glennland pool was where students swam—men only, at first. In addition to being the site of swimming meets, students had to pass swimming tests to graduate. The Glennland was the only pool around, so families sent their kids there for lessons. There were also “family nights” with open swimming. The new owners will inherit a piece of the pool’s art—the tile fish mosaics from the old pool still remain.
The historic Glennland Building, State College’s first high-rise apartment building, will still “stand tall” in its new incarnation as a hotel.