Penn State Altoona’s 75th Anniversary

by | Dec 12, 2014 | News, Uncategorized

On September 13, 1939, the Altoona Undergraduate Center opened in the Webster Grade School Building in downtown Altoona. In 1940, a second downtown building, Madison, was added to make room for sophomore science courses. Returning World War II veterans overfilled the Webster and Madison buildings in 1946 and the Center desperately needed more space. After raising $50,000, the Advisory Board purchased Ivyside Park in 1947, an abandoned 38-acre amusement park on the outskirts of the city, for a new campus.

The park was home to the world’s largest concrete swimming pool, now a parking lot for the college. Existing park buildings such as the bathhouse, a huge two-block-long dressing room, were
renovated for the Center’s use—hence the Center’s affectionate nickname, “Bathhouse U.” The Ivyside Park campus opened in 1948 with approximately 600 students and 30 faculty members.

Exactly seventy-five years after it first opened its doors, Penn State Altoona celebrated its anniversary Saturday, September 13, 2014 with a four-hour community carnival held on the Ivyside campus. In conjunction with the college’s Family Weekend, students, families, and the community were invited to spend the afternoon enjoying live music, food and craft vendors and an evening outdoor movie on the Intramural Fields. The day wrapped up with a fireworks display.

Chancellor and Dean Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry said, “The 75th Anniversary carnival was a great community celebration of Penn State Altoona’s humble beginnings. Our students and their parents, faculty, staff, and community members came together for a fun-filled day that was topped off by a terrific fireworks display. It was wonderful for our community members to join together with us to
celebrate this milestone in our college’s history!”

Since 1939, Penn State Altoona has become a four-year college and grown to include a downtown campus. The college offers twenty-one baccalaureate and six associate degrees, as well as the first two years of more than 160 Penn State majors and NCAA Division III athletics.

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