It’s always great when our work inspires others to share what they know about the Nittany Valley’s story. That happened last year with a column we wrote for Town & Gown about The Nittany Valley Society’s project cataloging the CBICC historical archive: Vince Verbeke, immediate past president of the Mount Nittany Conservancy, left a comment on the article that included some pretty cool information on the origins of State College’s many unique street names. I think it’s great to have that knowledge in the back of your head as you’re out navigating around town, because it helps remind of its unique character and history and enhances the experience of the place. It’s a little thing, of course; but those often are the very details that enrich our lives, no?
Vince comments: “Did you know that Fairmount Ave is so named because of its higher location gave it the best view of Mt. Nittany from town?”
He then adds the following, which is drawn from the History of State College, 1896-1946:
“Our Street Names Are Memorials”
Frequently asked by newcomers to the town, and occasionally by “oldtimers,” is the question, “From what source were such unusual street names derived?” State College streets are in a sense memorials to outstanding residents and faculty members. For instance, the name “Foster” has always been prominent in the history of the town. At one time, there were nine Mrs. Fosters in the village! Today there are seven telephones listed under that name. The inclusion, here, of a list of street names and their sources may prove interesting. Several of those listed are not yet within the borough limits. A, part of this list is included in Mr. Ferree’s thesis. (Name of street is given first and for whom named follows.)
Allen street – Dr. William Allen, president of the College, 1864 – 1866.
Atherton street – Dr. George W. Atherton, pres. f the College, 1882 – 1906.
Barnard street – Prof. L. H. Barnard, professor of civil engineering.
Beaver Ave – Gen. James A. Beaver, early landowner, influential in gaining aid for College; president of Board of Trustees, 1873 – 1881 and 1897 – 1915.
Buckhout street – W. A. Buckhout, professor of botany and a prominent citizen.
Burrowes street – Dr. T. H. Burrowes, president of the College, 1868 – 1871.
Butz street – George C. Butz, professor of horticulture, first president of borough council.
Calder Alley – Dr. James Calder, president, 1871 – 1880.
College Ave – Proximity to College.
Corl street – Several Corl families of the town.
Fairmount Ave – View of Mount Nittany.
Fairway Road – Named for J. T. McCormick’s first wife, Anna Maria Fair.
Foster Ave – Named for many Foster families who featured in the town’s history.
Frazier street – Gen. John Fraser, president of the College, 1866 – 1868.
Garner street – Samuel Garner, former landowner and farmer of State College.
Gill street – Rev. Benjamin Gill, D.D., chaplain for many years.
Glenn Road – For the Dr. W. S. Glenn Sr. family.
Hamilton Ave – John Hamilton, former landowner and for 37 years treasurer of the College.
Hartswick Ave – Henry Hartswick, son – in – law of John Neidigh, early settler.
Heister street – Gabriel Heister, one of the first trustees of the College.
Hetzel Place – Ralph Dorn Hetzel, president of the College, 1927 – 1947.
High street – Because of its location on high ground.
Highland Ave – Named for home of Prof. John Hamilton, “The Highlands.”
Hillcrest Ave – Named for its location on a ridge.
Holmes street – Holmes family, active in the borough organization.
Hoy street – W. A. Hoy, fourth burgess of the borough.
Irvin Ave – Gen. James Irvin, once part owner of Centre Furnace Lands, and donor of 200 acres of land for College.
Jackson street and Ave – Josiah P. Jackson, professor of mathematics, 1880 – 1893; and his son, John Price Jackson, dean of the School of Engineering, 1909 – 1915.
James Place – James T. Aikens estate.
Keller street – The Keller family of State College.
Krumrine Ave – Fred and John C. Krumrine families.
Locust Lane – Named from trees bordering the street.
Lytle street – Andrew Lytle, supervisor of roads in College township at time borough was formed.
Markle street – “Abe” Markle, early landowner and town’s first butcher.
McAllister street – Hugh N. McAllister, promoter of the College and designer of the original Old Main.
McCormick Ave – John T. McCormick, who helped organize the First National Bank.
McKee street – James Y. McKee, acting president, 1881 – 1882. Also vice – president for many years.
Miles street – Col. Samuel Miles, part owner of Centre Furnace ore furnace until 1832.
Mitchell Ave – Judge H. Walton Mitchell, president of the Board of Trustees, 1915 – 1930.
Nittany Ave – Nittany Valley and mountain.
Osman street – David Ozman, first blacksmith.
Park Ave – Formerly called “Lovers Lane,” changed to Park because its many trees resembled a park.
Patterson street – W. C. Patterson, the second burgess of State College.
Pugh street – Dr. Evan Pugh, first president of the College, 1859 – 1864.
Ridge Ave – Because it is higher than Park Ave.
Sauers street – John Sauers, first shoemaker.
Shattuck Drive – Professor Shattuck, first borough engineer, appointed 1907.
Sparks street – Dr. Edwin E. Sparks, president of the College, 1907 – 1920.
Sunset Road – Because it runs directly toward the sunset.
Thomas street – Dr. John M. Thomas, president of the College, 1920 – 1925.
Thompson street – Named for Moses Thompson whose early aid helped establish the College here.
Waring Ave – William G. Waring, first agricultural superintendent of the Farm School.
Woodland Drive – Location in a natural woodlot.