College Heights Historic District
The College Heights Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.
The College Heights Historic District is located at the northernmost part of the Borough of Sate College, Centre County, PA. Built on a relatively level strip of land at the crest of a hill, it is adjacent to and forms the northern edge of The Pennsylvania State University campus and its Ag Hill and Farmers High School historic districts (National Register). The College Heights District encompasses land and historic buildings associated with the early residential history of State College and represents its growth and architectural development as an emerging college town. The Holmes-Foster/Highlands Historic District is south of campus and the site of most of the fraternities as well as houses designed by architects and contractors prominent in the College Heights District. There are 319 properties in the College Heights District: 278 of them are contributing resources. All but two, an elementary school and a service station, are residential. Architecturally these properties offer excellent examples of early 20th century housing styles — a combination of well-built mail-order, pattern book and architect-designed variations of Colonial and Tudor Revivals, Mission style, Craftsman Bungalow, Prairie School, and International Style. A few of the earliest are vernacular Victorians and Queen Annes. Nearly all properties have wood frame structural systems. Building material facades include stone, brick, wood, stucco, and shingle, sometimes in combination with stone and brick being used most frequently. Workmanship is of overall high quality. Although variations in architectural styles and materials offer interesting contrasts, the scale and proportions of these properties are similar enough to provide a unity and cohesiveness to the neighborhood. Forty-one properties (approximately 13 per cent) have been identified as non-contributing. They are, for the most part, in architectural harmony with their neighbors but too recently built to be considered contributors to the district. The boundary of the College Heights District extends from Holmes Street at the eastern edge of the borough, south and west along Park Avenue bordering the campus and golf course, and then to a boundary that includes portions of Ridge Avenue and Sunset Road, north to portions of Hillcrest Avenue, and across Atherton Street to include Woodland Drive and portions of Mitchell Avenue. Atherton Street (Business Route 322) divides the District into East and West College Heights (also called Old and New) in local parlance, but does not diminish the homogeneity nor integrity of the historic suburban landscape. Subdivision schemes within each of three additions resulted in a variety of street systems, many with the typical Pennsylvania grid of streets and alleys. Shifts in alignment occurred where family farms abutted, such as at Allen Street where the Henry Hartswick and John Krumrine family farms met. (Ridge Avenue, crossing Allen from the west, jogs slightly and becomes Hartswick to the east of Allen; Hillcrest becomes Adams.) Other streets have been laid out diagonally across the grid and the 1930s Woodland Drive added a curvilinear element appropriate to the picturesque intent of many builders and owners. Allen Street runs northwest through the District and was an early thoroughfare connecting the campus with Krumrine Station (located approximately where Alien and Atherton Streets now intersect, beyond the district to the north) prior to the railroad terminal being located west of campus. Atherton Street, the region's main thoroughfare today, was initially known as the road to the Barrens, an area where Andrew Carnegie had developed a model iron town for his Pittsburgh steel operations. The boundaries of the District are crisp on two sides. Park Avenue at the southern edge of College Heights abuts the Penn State campus east of Atherton Street and the University golf links (laid out in the early 1920s, now the White Course) west of Atherton. At the eastern edge of the District, the back alley of lots that front on Holmes Street faces a broad expanse of open University agricultural land and experimental flower gardens on what was once the Mitchell Estate. The ragged north and west edge is determined by the ending date of the District's period of significance.
The College Heights Historic District incorporates three annexations (from neighboring College and Ferguson Townships) to the original boundaries of the Borough established in 1904. The John Krumrine Addition (1915) involved a rectangular parcel of three long blocks bounded by Park, Sunset, Ridge, and Allen; the Henry Hartswick Addition (1922) added some sixteen blocks on both sides of Atherton Street and north to Adams Avenue; and a further acquisition from the Krumrine-Hartswick descendants extended the northern boundary of College Heights in 1931.
Given its proximity to the campus, College Heights has from its beginnings been a popular residential area for Penn State faculty and staff members and their families. Students have lived in rooming houses, duplexes and larger apartment buildings, particularly along East Park Avenue and North Allen Street closest to campus, but single-family homes have been the predominant housing stock along the attractive residential streets of College Heights.
These properties, set back in a consistent line on fairly spacious landscaped lots, are located along well-maintained tree-lined streets. In 1933, for example, Hartswick Addition deed transfers stipulated that dwellings were to be set back at least twenty feet, with each dwelling to cost at least $5000. The stipulation also included that there was to be eight feet of grass between pavement and curb, and shade trees were to be planted on the grass not less than twenty or more than forty feet apart. Some individual properties also retain vestiges of earlier planting plans developed for them by professional landscape architects, often Penn State faculty members.
The oldest structure in the district is the John Krumrine homestead dating from 1852 (136 Hillcrest), located to the north of the 1915 Krumrine addition. A three-bay side- hall Georgian farmhouse, it has a hooded doorway, six-over-six windows and a standing seam metal roof. Although it has undergone some modernizing (a large shed roof rear addition), it is in excellent condition and still retains its integrity as an early central Pennsylvania farm property. The Henry Hartswick farmstead, located near the corner of Jackson Street and Adams Avenue, was razed in the 1960s. The only other 19th-century building in College Heights is a farmhouse and early faculty home, originally located on the Penn State campus, that was remodeled and moved to 140 Hartswick Avenue in 1918.
Limited building on open farm lands in what would become College Heights began early in the 20th century, with fifteen houses in place by 1920. They were located on streets closest to Penn State — Park Avenue, Burrowes Street, Ridge Avenue and Allen Street. The three earliest, Folk Victorians, were built before 1910 and are located just to the east of the Krumrine farm (523 N. Allen, 113 and 123 East Park). In 1910 a Queen Anne was added (511 Burrowes). The remaining homes built throughout the decade are a combination of structures reminiscent of earlier styles in counterpoint to an increasingly popular preference for Dutch Colonials.
By 1929, another sixty-nine houses had been added in College Heights, with Craftsman Bungalows being a desired new choice. Several of them are located along Hartswick and Park Avenues and on Holmes Street. They vary in design from a tiny one-story 700 square-foot hipped-roof Bungalow with clapboard siding and trellised front porch, built in 1920 (214 Hartswick), to a 2 1/2-story, double-dormered, 2,000 square-foot version built in 1923 (117 East Park). The roof of this Bungalow extends over cobblestoned porch supports, with cobblestones also used to face the first floor. The second floor is stuccoed; clapboard is used for the dormers.
Also during the 1920s, Prairie style Four Squares were built, along with more elaborate Dutch Colonials. The Four Square at 326 W. Ridge, built in 1920, and its Dutch Colonial neighbor across the street (329 West Ridge), built in 1921, are good examples.
In 1924 and 1925 two particularly imposing Colonial Revival houses were built on West Park Avenue overlooking the University golf course and with a view of the Tussey Mountains to the south. Selected by two prominent Penn State faculty members, W.G. Chambers (Dean of the College of Education) and W.P. Davey (Professor of Physics and Chemistry), one house is faced in brick and one in stone; both have over 3,000 square feet of living space. They represent the beginning of a collection of large, well-designed, period-style homes built by Penn State administrators and faculty members along West Park Avenue during the next decade.
College Heights became a major State College residential area in the 1930s when another two hundred or so homes were built. Mail-order houses, especially those offered by Sears, became a popular choice for many homeowners. Examples of Picturesque Revivals, Cape Cods, and Dutch Colonials are sprinkled throughout the District.
At the same time, local architects, many of them Penn State faculty members, were designing and having built a sophisticated selection of mostly larger period homes in Georgian and Dutch Colonial styles, similarly scaled with two and one-half stories, accented doorways, fanlights, sidelights, and often side porches or sunrooms. Two examples, both designed by architect Clarence M. Bauchspies, are at 722 Holmes and 629 Sunset.
Several large Tudor Revival homes also were built in the District. A representative example, designed by Bauchspies and also on Sunset Road, has a steeply pitched roof, stone facing, half timbering, decorative chimneys, and casement windows. In contrast, a few College Heights residents preferred the simple lines of the International style, represented by a West Park Avenue example (617 W. Park) designed by Paul Schweitzer, a Penn State professor of engineering research. These skillfully designed homes are located throughout the district but especially along Park and Ridge Avenues and Sunset Road in West College Heights and on Mitchell Avenue and Holmes and McKee Streets east of Atherton Street.
The College Heights School, now used for administrative purposes, and the College Heights Service Station* are the only non-residential buildings in the District. Both the elementary school, built on land donated by Adam Krumrine, and the neighborhood service station, also owned by the Krumrine family, have been contributors to the community for more than fifty years.
Good design and overall high quality workmanship of the properties, and their careful maintenance by past and current owners, have kept the appearance of the College Heights neighborhood neat and well-groomed. When alterations have been made, usually an addition to the structure, they have been done so that the original integrity of the building has not been damaged.
Beyond the edge of the District there is an equally fine mix of houses, many in the International style, designed by architects William Hajjar, Kenneth Heidrich and others, and built in the late 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and later. Examples of non-contributing resources within the District include a 1956 Hajjar designed property at 327 Arbor Way; one designed in 1955 by Kenneth Heidrich (510 Fairway); and Milton Osborne's home (506 Sunset) built in 1950. On the southeast corner of Sunset and Ridge is an example of one of a few modestly styled 1960s ranch houses found in the older parts of College Heights that contrast with their more elaborately styled neighbors. There are no examples of greatly altered older buildings in the District.
While the integrity of the College Heights Historic District would seem to be safe from outside pressures, it is not without threats. Some traffic to communities north and west of the Borough cuts through onto residential North Allen Street in East College Heights (and sometimes onto smaller residential streets) in order to avoid the vehicle clutter of North Atherton Street. While neighboring Ferguson Township has considered this an alternate route, State College Borough officials and College Heights residents have not. They have unsuccessfully opposed left turns from Atherton Street into the neighborhood at the township-borough line, but have restricted those turns within the Borough.
Another pressure on College Heights is the shift from owner-occupied properties to absentee ownership and student rentals along increasingly busy streets such as North Allen and Park Avenue. The Borough has attempted to control overcrowding in these rental properties — and the resulting increase in vehicles and noise — that often spills over and negatively impacts nearby neighborhoods. The challenge is to keep the residential quality of this portion of College Heights viable and to maintain this District as an outstanding example of early 20th century residential architecture.
The College Heights Historic District of State College, Centre County, is an example of suburban residential development associated with the beginnings of The Pennsylvania State University in 1855, and particularly with its growth and development from the 1890s to 1944. It is significant in the areas of community planning and development and education, and in the area of architecture. It is significant in the theme of community planning and development through the ways in which a set of interlocking landowners, developers and builders transformed furnace farms into housing for faculty and staff employed by Penn State. For example: (1) Subdivision schemes were consciously developed in College Heights along Garden Suburb lines. The College Heights Association was established in 1924 by property owners who promoted its desirability and healthfulness. Association members noted the District's beautiful setting — its altitude and its nearness to the college woods and the golf links — and offered a promise that it would become the garden spot of State College. Street names, such as Sunset Road, Fairway Road (oriented north from the golf links), Park Avenue, Ridge Avenue, Arbor Way, and Woodland Drive, used in this suburban district, are suggestive of the garden/nature tone. (2) College Heights residents took advantage of the growth and popularity of national mass-marketing institutions offering pattern book and mail order housing, that coincided with the growth of Penn State and the State College community, by selecting from a wide range of easily accessible housing choices which they modified and individualized to meet their needs and tastes. (3) And, a number of College Heights home owners chose to be personally involved in the design of their residences, drawing upon the expertise of a wide range of Penn State engineering and architectural faculty members. The District is significant in the theme of education not only because of its historical association with the founding, growth and development of the college, but also because of the role college personnel played in the development of College Heights and of the Borough. Much of the housing in College Heights was developed for and lived in by people associated with the University as staff members, faculty, or students. In addition, faculty members and administrators helped to write ordinances, served on the Borough's boards and commissions, and were actively involved in the establishment of the College Heights School. Of particular note are the roles played by landscape architects Arthur W. Cowell and Walter Trainer, and architect Clarence Bauchspies, all College Heights residents. Cowell laid out a portion of East College Heights and supervised the landscaping of the College Heights School. Trainer was responsible for the development of Sunset Park, northwest of the District. Both carefully landscaped their own properties and shared their professional expertise with many of their neighbors, contributing to the garden quality of the District. And Clarence Bauchspies contributed to the fine architectural examples in College Heights with more than fifteen handsomely designed houses. The College Heights Historic District also is significant under Criterion C in the area of architecture. There is a remarkable intermingling of architect-designed houses (by Bauchspies and others) with pattern book designs and mail-order housing. This mix, represented across several decades of growth, presents a sampler of late Victorian, early 20th century and pre-World War II housing styles. A high level of integrity is sustained by strong efforts to retain streetscapes and plantings on block after block of subdivisions.
The College Heights Historic District is located on land that was originally part of Centre Furnace, the area's first ironmaking operation. Begun in 1792 and out of blast by the middle of the 19th century, its influence continued when in 1855 two hundred acres of furnace company land was donated by ironmasters James Irvin and Moses Thompson to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Society to be used for a new Farmers High School. Meanwhile, other portions of former Centre Furnace lands were acquired by local farmers. John and Frederick Krumrine and Henry Hartswick became the owners of land that would become College Heights.
The Farmers High School gained a new name, the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania, and land grant status in 1862. In 1874 it became The Pennsylvania State College. The student population grew slowly at first — 110 in 1860; 209 in 1890; 433 by 1900. Five years later, it had doubled; another five and it doubled again, totalling 1,662 by 1910; and by 1920 it had reached 3,200. Ten years later the student enrollment had reached 6,521. Increases in resident population paralleled that student growth closely — totalling 6,225 in 1930, for a combined total of 12,746 — and the demand for housing became persistent. (Student enrollment and building activities sharply declined during World War II.) A significant portion of that demand was met in subdivisions to the south of campus, where a range of shelter from tenements and boarding houses to apartments and duplexes, single-family houses and fraternities was built over several decades. These served students, townspeople in laboring, retail and professional occupations, as well as college staff and faculty.
The College Heights Historic District stands in distinct contrast to the far larger, but more varied Holmes-Foster/Highlands Historic District to the south of campus. Although containing some student housing, the housing designs are almost exclusively 20th century. They offer the middle range of house sizes, in contrast to the massive fraternities and smaller cottages in Holmes-Foster/Highlands. With a more consistent set of planting schemes on boulevards and in front yards, to tie together houses and streetscapes, College Heights developed as a more exclusive middle-class suburban district in the Borough.
While most Pennsylvania communities had peaked and then receded in building activities by the late 1920s and 1930s, State College, enjoying the economic stability of a growing college town, was in its building heyday. Financially accessible middle-class houses were being built north of campus, with local builders and contractors replicating plans taken from a wide variety of books, catalogs, and trade magazines. Prospective owners were able to select the homes of their dreams from pattern books and architect designs — homes that would meet their architectural preferences and financial capabilities in styles ranging from small Craftsmen and Prairie-style Bungalows to picturesque period revivals. Skilled carpenters, bricklayers, and stonemasons were kept busy meeting the needs of this continually growing college community.
In 1924, the College Heights Association was formed, "composed of those persons holding property in the so-called Park Avenue section, north of the College campus." According to the November 28, 1924 edition of the State College Times:
"Improvements have been made in this fast-growing section of town right along since its inception. The streets have been improved, walks have been laid; telephone and electric light lines are now waiting for the prospective builder; shade trees have been planted, water pipes have been laid on all the principal streets; and best of all, beautiful houses have been erected. From the very first, people have recognized the desirability of this location. Apart from its altitude, it borders the college woods** and the golf links, giving to this section a beautiful setting which at the same time is healthful. The Association feels that here is a section that promises to be the garden spot of State College."
Faculty member Arthur W. Cowell contributed to that garden spot. The first head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Penn State, he laid out a portion of East College Heights, named its streets, and by 1920 had built a Sears Dutch Colonial at 144 Ridge Avenue, one of the first Sears houses to be built in College Heights. He customized his mail-order home by lowering the windows so that his young children could see gardens he had designed for the property.
He was responsible for planning the gardens and grounds of other residential properties as well, including the John Haugh house (335 Arbor Way), and also for the landscape design of the College Heights School. Land for the school was donated by Adam Krumrine; members of the College Heights Association volunteered to do the landscaping under Cowell's direction. After leaving Penn State, Cowell developed landscape designs for several locations including the state park at Washington Crossing and Harrisburg's Capitol grounds.
P. Boyd Kapp, a 1920 Penn State architectural engineering graduate and professor of engineering mechanics, and his partner, Henley Eden, also a Penn State graduate, designed the College Heights School. They also were responsible for the design of some fine College Heights residential properties. One of them, a 1931 English Tudor at 525 W. Park was the home for many years of Hemingway scholar Philip Young. With a high-pitched cross-gable, it has a slate roof, white stucco over brick veneer, wall dormers extending through the cornice, casement windows, and half timbering over a gabled-porch entryway. Kapp also is credited with the design of other College Heights properties including a brick-veneered Colonial Revival (525 McKee) that has dormers with pediments, and sets of three double-hung windows on either side of a Georgian-style doorway. Across the street (172 Hartswick) is a Mission-style masonry veneer home; some of the windows are trimmed with exposed brick and stone.
Perhaps the property that Kapp is best known for, however, is the John Haugh house at 333 Arbor Way, designed with another partner, Dean Kennedy in 1935-36. According to family history, Mrs. Haugh, wife of a local businessman, wanted a different house, one unlike others that were being built at the time. With the help of an excellent contractor, John Henszey, local craftsmen used native materials of hand-hewn timbers, hammer-worked stone, and thick, irregular slate shingles to build a stone English Tudor. (The stone came from the Sand Mountain area of nearby Bear Meadows.) It is a large house with two sets of tall double chimneys with chimneys pots, a cross gable with a leaded-glass window and other metal casement windows glazed in diagonal patterns, brick trim, and a pronounced stone entrance porch with a heavy wooden door and iron hardware. The landscape plan, designed by Arthur Cowell, is still fairly intact.
Contractor John Henszey liked the Haugh house so much that he had a similar one designed and began to build it for himself the following year. He not only built large houses such as this one in College Heights and elsewhere in the Borough, but he was a principal builder of small mail order houses. And, he was a major contractor for the mansion-size fraternities to the south of campus.
O.W. Houts, another well-known area contractor and businessman, directly connected the community and Penn State by making stones from Penn State's original Old Main available for reuse. Old Main was rebuilt in 1929-1930, and leftover stones (originally quarried at a site near what is now East College Avenue and Pugh Street) were used for five residential properties. Among these were two Colonial Revival homes constructed side-by-side at 705 and 711 McKee in College Heights.
Penn State professor Frederick C. Disque was responsible for the design of four fine fraternity buildings in State College. He also was the architect for residential properties including a Tudor Revival on the corner of Ridge and Burrowes (154 Ridge). Built in 1928 for history professor Asa Martin, this handsome house combines brick on the main floor and stucco with half-timbering and other wood decoration on the upper floors. A sharply pitched cross-gable extends on the left side to incorporate a porch. It is echoed by a smaller version that provides an entrance to the house. About 1930, Disque left Penn State to become a professor of architecture at the University of Virginia.
Landscape architect Walter W. Trainer came to Penn State in 1930 as a faculty member and supervisor of landscape construction and maintenance. Under his direction, the main campus became a laboratory for comparison and evaluation of the methods of adapting plants to their full potential, and it also became one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. He was the architect for his own 1931 Colonial Revival house in College Heights (714 McKee). Equally important was Trainer's landscape plan, patterned after styles popular in the mid-19th century. The landscape is still intact.
Like his predecessor Arthur Cowell, Trainer became involved in a College Heights community project, this time the establishment of Sunset Park, beginning in 1941. The park is less than a block from the District's northeastern corner but is separated from the District by residences constructed after the period of significance.
Clarence M. Bauchspies received his bachelor's degree in architecture from Penn State in 1927, and his master's degree in 1932. He became a registered architect, a faculty member, and by 1939 had designed at least fourteen properties in College Heights. His houses are grouped in several locations. One of his earliest efforts (1935) resulted in the designing of four small two-story houses on East Park Avenue at the edge of the Borough, each borrowing classical details and each representing a different Colonial Revival style that Bauchspies defined — French, Dutch, Georgian and New England (311, 317, 323 and 327 E. Park). The French example, faced with uncoursed stone, has an entry porch with pediment, a side ell, and wall-gabled dormers extending through the cornice. Next door, the Dutch Colonial Revival has a coursed stone main floor facade with a central entrance, and a three-bay clapboard shed dormer from a gambrel roof. The Georgian Colonial (gambrel roof) and the New England Colonial (side gabled) both have side hall entrances, coursed-stone facades, and dormer windows. Each has an elaborate entrance: the Georgian example has a portico with a curved underside and pilasters; the New England example's portico has a broken triangular pediment and pilasters.
He also offered new homeowners a variety of fairly sizeable houses in more elaborated period styles. Three of them, within a half block of each other on Holmes Street, range from a hipped-roof brick Colonial Revival (625 Holmes) to a half-timbered stone English Tudor Revival (721 Holmes) to a clapboard Colonial Revival with a side porch (722 Holmes). Another grouping of three in West College Heights includes his own richly detailed brownstone English Tudor (608 Sunset Road), a simple but carefully balanced limestone three-bay Georgian Revival with entrance porch and decorated doorway (629 Sunset), and a Colonial Revival in brick with front bay windows, wall dormers, pilasters, and an elaborate door with hooded pediment (346 Ridge). Three more Bauchspies-designed houses are on Mitchell Street. The one at 321 Mitchell is a hipped-roof stone three-bay Georgian Revival with side-hall entrance, an eyebrow window in the slate roof, and a copper hood over the door. He was the architect for Kappa Delta Rho, a handsome stone Tudor Revival structure in the fraternity district as well.
Engineering and other faculty members who possessed the skills required to draw up original plans and specify details, also were quite active in designing their own homes during this period. In the 1930s, John W. Breneman, a professor of engineering mechanics, designed a Colonial Revival for himself at 615 N. Burrowes and an English Tudor Revival for a colleague at 235 W. Ridge. Carl W. Wild, a professor of landscape architecture, designed his International style home at 705 N. Holmes in 1937; in 1938, industrial arts professor John Friese was the architect for his Tudor Revival at 426 W. Ridge.
Many houses built during the early part of the 20th century in State College, from 1908 until World War II began, were not designed by local architects or engineers, however. Rather, residents were choosing house patterns from the Gordon-Van Tine Co., Aladdin Co., Sears Roebuck & Co. in styles with names like Westly, Rembrandt, Attleboro, Lynnhaven, Mitchell, or Bedford. They were ordered by mail and shipped by rail, with materials delivered by train to the receiving station of the Bellefonte Central a few blocks west of campus.
These mail-order companies offered would-be home owners not only the latest in style choices to meet their space needs and their pocket books, but total house packages with first-rate materials. The Aladdin Company, with an "Aladdin Man" staying at the nearby Bellefonte YMCA, advertised that their houses could be built at half the cost of buildings put up by the usual methods. All building parts arrived by railroad, precut and numbered and, in the case of Sears, a mortgage plan was provided to help owners acquire their new homes along with a guarantee that promised satisfaction or Sears would pay all shipping costs and refund the purchase price.
Once the lot was selected and the foundation ready, these homes were ready for assembly by local builders or possibly even by the purchasers themselves. Materials were carried on the Bellefonte Central from a variety of places — Newark, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Detroit — wherever the factory suppliers were located.
While the earliest mail-order buyers chose to build vernacular Victorian houses in the areas immediately adjacent to campus, by the 1920s catalogs were providing prospective homeowners with a variety of alternative plans. Some buyers agreed with the Gordon-Van Tine catalog that, "There is nothing that answers your purpose so well, if room is required, as the big, square house," and chose a popular Foursquare. Good examples of these substantial two-story houses — with low pyramidal roofs, dormers, and verandahs running the full width of the first floor — can be found at 326 W. Ridge (1920), 243 W. Park (1925), and 210 Hartswick (1929).
Others preferred to choose from a variety of large and small Bungalow styles. One family selected a 1922 two-story, eight room Gordon-Van Tine, No. 615, described as "a charming English Half-Timbered Design." The original stucco and half-timbered trim has been covered with permastone, but this house at 217 W. Park is still easily identified as No. 615, and is still owned by the Knutson/DeLauter family who had it built. If a buyer did not need as large a home, the four-room Sear's Rosita (214 Hartswick) was available for less than $1000.
With interest in the new Craftsman style, many College Heights homeowners chose Bungalows with sloping roofs extending over large porches with heavy porch supports. A variation of the Sears Westly with a shed dormer, seven rooms and bath and a full-width front porch, was popular throughout the Borough. Two College Heights examples are at 143 W. Park and 520 Holmes. A similar style, The Carlin, with an open dormer onto a second floor balcony, probably was the choice of the Garner family at 706 N. Allen. The front porch has been enclosed, but suggestions of the balcony remain.
Dutch Colonials were providing yet another stylish housing cut. Landscape architect Arthur Cowell's home on Ridge Avenue has a gambrel roof with two pairs of double-hung windows in the shed-roofed dormer, along with two pairs of windows on either side of the central pedimented porch entryway. The facade materials are wooden shingles. Another 1922 variation, also on Ridge Avenue (215 Ridge), has a grouping a four windows with a hooded main entrance to the side, and single windows in the shed dormer.
By the early 1930s, 1 1/2 to 2-story Romantic Revival styles provided by mail-order companies also were in high demand. These frame houses, sometimes faced in clapboard, sometimes brick, and sometimes stone, were repeated throughout the College Heights residential district, providing architectural variety and individuality to the neighborhood.
Three houses at the corner of Mitchell Avenue and Holmes Street offer good examples of the versatility of these mail-order offerings. They all were selected by Penn State faculty families in 1932/33. The David Ranks chose a stone English cottage, The Colchester, "a home of outstanding beauty," according to the Sears, Roebuck catalog, with a crescent window over a set of triple windows in the front gable, a round-arched front door, and a distinctive chimney to the right of the doorway (750 Holmes). Across the street (433 Mitchell) the George Guillets chose another Tudor cottage-style stone Sears (the pattern name is not available) with a main cross-gable and a smaller gable acting as the entrance, metal casement windows, and slate roof. As was possible with Sears plans, Dr. Guillet, a professor of mechanical engineering, chose to customize his home with higher ceilings and a rounded main staircase. On the opposite corner, the Maurice Gjesdahls chose The Attleboro, a two-story Cape Cod that, according to Sears, "achieves distinction with its fine doorway, dormers, shuttered windows and correct architectural details." This house at 747 Holmes was featured in the National Trust publication, Houses by Mail.
Other Sears English cottage-style examples, The Mitchell, The Barrington, The Claremont, can be found in College Heights, along with The Lynnhaven, described in the Sears catalog as a "cheerful well-proportioned residence with deep set door and flower boxes." It was a popular State College choice; three of these Tudor-style cottages are located within a few blocks of each other on Sunset Road, Ridge and Park Avenues. One of them, with the addition of a porte cochere, was the home of Dr. Mary Willard, a noted criminologist and a daughter of Professor Joseph Willard. The Willard Building on campus recognizes his prominence.
Contractor Albert Bartges was responsible for building a number of houses in College Heights including, in 1932, his own three-bay brick-veneered Colonial Revival at 320 Hartswick. It is architecturally well-proportioned with a central porch entrance that is enhanced by a columned portico and a doorway with fanlight and sidelights. It, too, is a Sears house.
Well built, with good materials and good designs, these mail-order houses often compare favorably with homes designed by local architects and are not always easy to identify. Information about them has come from several sources. In some cases, homeowners have shared copies of original plans. Houses also have been identified by matching them to styles and plans offered through Sears and other catalogs. Construction details found in the former office of contractor John Henszey has been another rich informational source. And court house records have identified the name of at least one of the Sears lending officers, F. C. Schaub of Philadelphia, and to whom the loans were being made.
College Heights offers an excellent example of an academic community that had both the interest in and the financial means to experiment with housing ideas and trends. With a cadre of architects, landscape architects and engineers eager to experiment with built versions of theoretical designs, and with local builders encouraged to replicate plans from books, catalogs, and trade magazines, State College clients created the climate for making an evolving suburban landscape of academic quality in College Heights. With owner interest still high, this State College neighborhood has remained remarkably intact. It represents a laboratory of examples of early 20th century suburban architecture and one worthy of recognition.
*When a new owner wanted to convert the station to a "Seven to Eleven" a few years ago. College Heights residents urged him to reconsider. The discussion resulted in the retention of a neighborhood service station, continuing the role it has played for many years.
**Penn State's "Hort Woods" was across Park Avenue from East College Heights, bounded by Park, Allen Street, Shortlidge and Curtin Roads. A very small portion of the woods still remains; most has been replaced by campus buildings.
Major Bibliographical References
Architects' Small House Service Bureau. Your Future Home: Architect-Designed Houses of the Early 1920s. American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C., 1992.
Gordon-Van Tine Co. 117 House Designs of the Twenties. The Athenaeum of Philadelphia and Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1992.
Gowans, Alan. The Comfortable House: North American Suburban Architecture 1890-1930. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA., 1986.
McAlester, Virginia and Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1988.
Schweitzer, Robert and Michael W.R. Davis. America's Favorite Homes. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1990.
Stevenson, Katherine Cole and H. Ward Jandl. Houses By Mail. Preservation Press, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1986.
CENTRE COUNTY REFERENCE MATERIAL:
Anderson's Directory and Reference Guide of Bellefonte, State College, Howard, and Milesburg, 1911-1912. H.R. Anderson, Mansfield, Pennsylvania.
Bellefonte and State College Telephone Directory. The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania, November, 1939.
Hibshman, E.K., Editor. The Pennsylvania State College Alumni Directory, 1861-1935. Penn State Alumni Association, State College, PA.
The Pennsylvania State College Bulletin. Summer Session, 1927.
The Pennsylvania State College Bulletin, Summer Session, 1932.
Sanborn Map Company, State College, PA: 1906, 1911, 1922, 1929.
State College, Pennsylvania Telephone Street Guide and Householders' Directory. Mullin-Kille and Daily Times, State College, 1943.
Student, Faculty, Staff Directory. The Pennsylvania State College, State College, 1945-46.
U.S. Manuscript Census of Population, State College, PA., 1910; 1920.
† Melander, Jacqueline and Holdsworth, Deryck, State College Planning Commission Historic Resources Study Committee, College Heights Historic District, nomination document, 1995, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.