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Campus razes house that stood sentry over entrance

The Hartenbach House

The 1880s-era farmhouse that stood at the front of Penn State Beaver along Old Brodhead Road was torn down last summer.

Once the home of Ralph and Margaret Hartenbach and their son and daughter, the house was the hub of a large farm that took up much of the property on which Penn State Beaver sits.

The Hartenbach’s children eventually grew and moved out of the house. Their son, Henry, took over half of the farm and built the small blue house on the hill that now overlooks the Brodhead Cultural Center J.P. Giusti Amphitheater. Henry had a son, Ralph, whose family now owns Beaver County Fruit and Garden on Brodhead Road.

Henry died before both of his parents, and his part of the land went back to his father.

The Hartenbach’s daughter, Vivian, and her husband, David, had a family and now live in Frederick, Pa.

In the 1970s, the Hartenbachs sold their farm to Penn State, contingent on them keeping the farmhouse and land around it until their deaths.

After her husband died, Margaret, affectionately known by many as “Mrs. H.,” was determined to stay in her home. As she aged, she decided to live on the first floor of the house to avoid climbing the stairs to the second story.

“I toured the house when I met Mrs. H. for the first time,” said Amy M. Krebs ’78 Lib, director of campus and community relations. “It really was beautiful.”

After Mrs. Hartenbach died 15 years ago, the campus used it for storage. Over the years officials discussed a variety of uses for the house, but its age and the high cost of renovating the building prevented any plans from being finalized.

Before being razed, the once-elegant interior still showed signs of its past glory.

On the main floor a beautiful wooden fireplace surround leaned against the wall of the living room, and the carpet had been removed to reveal hardwood floors.

The old kitchen featured a narrow pass-through to the back porch where Mrs. Hartenbach once handed meals to farmhands.

A wooden staircase with hand-turned spindles and intricate scrollwork trim climbed impressively to the second floor, and the tiny painted handprints of the Hartenbach children lined the wall. On the second floor three bedrooms were carpeted in braided rag-wool rugs, and a steep staircase led to the attic.

The Hartenbach family took items they wanted to keep prior to the demolition of the farmhouse.

The campus has turned the site and its surrounding mature trees into a green space and has no plans to put another building there.