Blair County's First Hundred Years, 1846-1946
Blair County Historical Society
CULTURE IN BLAIR COUNTY
LIBRARIES - K. Virginia Krick 
IT is difficult to believe that our present railroad station, the "small one-and-half storied, smoke-blackened building of Victorian design" was for more than twenty-five years following 1860 the intellectual center of Altoona and Blair County. But it was in 1860 that the second story of the old ticket office became the home of the Altoona Mechanics Library and Reading Room Association. It was moved there after its formal opening in the railroad building on Eleventh Avenue and Thirteenth Street, which took place on November 13, 1858. Though established and maintained through the generosity of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, mainly for its employees, the library was open to anyone who would pay a small fee.
In 1885, when the number of books had increased from 8,000 volumes to a peak of 65,000, the library was moved to the Logan House, and five years later, on June 9, 1900, to the old Presbyterian Church on Eleventh Avenue between Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets. Here it remained until 1926 when it was moved to the Roosevelt Junior High School building.
Before its closing, the Altoona Mechanics Library had become an important and far-reaching influence in the community. The membership, consisting of honorary members, shareholders, Pennsylvania Railroad employees, pensioners, and school children, was about 1,500. At the end of an especially prosperous year when receipts totaled $3,570, over 2,000 volumes were added to the shelves and the library subscribed to about two hundred periodicals.
In 1926 the Pennsylvania Railroad Company turned over to the Altoona School District the entire collection of books together with $20,000 to cover initial expenses for a free Public Library. That part of the collection chosen for immediate circulation was catalogued and shelved in the library of the Roosevelt Junior High School. It was opened to the public as a free library in April, 1927. The remainder of the collection included technical and literary periodicals and magazines, many in the German and French languages, first editions of English and American fiction and nonfiction, and many series of special subjects as well as government publications. These, totaling over 35,000 volumes, were sorted and shelved in the Roosevelt and Lincoln buildings.
Until 1931 all the work of the library was carried on in the library room of the Roosevelt building. In 1931 and 1935 branches were opened in the Keith and McKinley Schools respectively, and for the most part were manned full time by means of Federal projects. At present the Keith branch is open from 4 until 8 p.m. each Thursday; the McKinley from 2 until 8 p.m. each Friday.
By means of a Federal project, the remaining 40,000 books not technically cared for in 1927, were catalogued through 1933-37. This collection was removed to the first floor of the Franklin School building in 1938, shelved and made available for use. The cards indexing these books were placed with those in the main room at the Roosevelt School and may be procured through the card catalogue.
In 1941, largely through the interest of the Library Board and the School District, a children's room was opened adjoining the main library in the Roosevelt school. Many times the original number of children are now served and the reading material is well adapted to their needs and interests. Story hour is held each Friday afternoon from 3:30 until 4:00. It is sponsored by the Altoona Story League and the stories are presented by the members of the Junior Story League. The branch libraries are cared for in the same manner by the League.
The library's part in the war effort included the Victory Book Campaign, the collection of publicity. data for the Fifth War Loan Drive, and the present compilation of the World War II record of inductees from Blair County. Through the Victory Book Campaign, In 1942-43, over 20,000 volumes were collected from Blair County and in 1943-44 over 15,000. In this second year of the campaign over 60,000 books were assembled at the Miller School from Central Pennsylvania and over 24,000 were sent to army camps, navy bases, hospitals, and WAC training schools. Each item of the newspaper publicity of the Fifth War Loan Drive was clipped by the library and mailed to headquarters. The record of inductees from Blair County now includes some 12,000 names. Folders containing the name, address, date of induction and branch of service of each inductee are filed alphabetically and clippings concerning them are being entered in each folder. This record is also located in the Miller School and is available to the general public.
Through the period from 1927 to date, the library has been free to the public and the Altoona School District has been its only source of maintenance. Approximately 23,000 books have been purchased by the District with money appropriated annually by the School Board for that purpose and 8,577 books have been donated by residents. This brings the total number of volumes to 94,591. With the five-year plan of registration, over 21,000 persons were on the membership roster for 1943-44, 68,793 books were loaned. In 1931 the peak of circulation was over 101,000. The library receives nine newspapers and one hundred thirty-nine magazines by purchase and fifty-two subscriptions by gift, and an average of two hundred books is purchased monthly.
The library provides a reading room for adults and one for children, and also serves the public by circulating books and magazines and doing reference research for individuals and study groups. It is open from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. daily except Saturday, when the hour for closing is 5:00 p.m. and Sunday when the library is closed entirely.
Two additional libraries maintained by the Altoona School District are those located in the Altoona High School, with Miss Maud Minster serving as librarian, and in the D. S. Keith Junior High School, where Miss Marian Bartle is the librarian.
A private library consisting of over 1,000 books is maintained in the home of Mrs. Henry C. Shields, a member of the Library Board, for the benefit of the children of the Fifth Ward. Mrs. Shields was formerly a teacher in the Curtin School. At one time Mr. and Mrs. Paul Kreutzpointner had at their residence a library of several thousand books which were circulated free both to children and adults. Until early in 1940 a library of several thousand volumes was maintained by the Frohsinn Singing Society. This collection of classic fiction and non-fiction, printed for the most part in German, was presented to the public library and is now available to the public.
The private library of Mr. William F. Gable, founder of the William. F. Gable Company, was begun about the same time as the Altoona Mechanics Library. Any discussion of the libraries of Blair County would be incomplete without mention of this unusual ' collection of several thousand volumes. Mr. Gable was a genuine lover of books and a collector of rare editions and autographs. Aside from their content many of his books were of special interest to him due to his intimate friendship with the authors. His books and his knowledge of them he shared generously. After Mr. Gable's death, his library was sold, with the exception of some of the more cherished volumes which were retained by the family.
Outside of Altoona, there are three so-called community libraries, as distinguished from those provided by the schools. These are the Hollidaysburg Free Public Library, the Byers Memorial Library in Martinsburg and the Tyrone Y. M.C.A. Library.
The Hollidaysburg Free Public Library was established in the Snyder building at 577 Allegheny Street in May, 1944, with a Board of Directors representing the community as a governing body. It was incorporated December 18, 1944. By February 1, 1945, 3,166 books had been collected, 1,371 received by purchase and 3,029 by gift. All the services of the library have been carried on with volunteer help. 5,786 books have been circulated from the time of opening. Plans are being completed to employ a full-time librarian. The future of this library is bright and promising as one of Hollidaysburg's outstanding civic projects.
In Martinsburg, the Byers Memorial Library is located in the Morrison Cove High School. It was presented to the community in 1937 by Mrs. Rose E. Byers in memory of her husband, Edward Byers who was founder of the school. It includes over 1,600 volumes and forms the nucleus of the greater Byers Memorial Library.
In Tyrone, the library, located in the Y.M.C.A. building, was begun in 1921. It is used by members of the "Y", their families and friends. It contains 5,000 volumes of varied interest for adults and children. The circulation is around 1,800 books per month. It is open daily except Sunday, throughout the afternoon and evening, but closes Saturday night. It is financed by the Y.M.C.A. and books are received through purchase and gift. Miss Helen Catherman is now in charge of the library and William A. Thomas is the Y.M.C.A. secretary.
With the above exceptions, the library facilities in the townships are provided by the schools. For the greater part each has an up-to-date library open throughout the day for reading and study. In Bellwood the library is located in the high school and includes over 4,500 volumes. A full-time librarian has been employed since 1942. Miss Mary Katherine Beabes holds the position at the present time. The Hollidaysburg High School library includes over 6,000 volumes and has functioned in its present state with a full-time librarian for the past six years, or since the opening of the new building. Miss Alice Scribner is the librarian.
The library in the Martinsburg High School was begun in 1919 when the school was opened. Mrs. Margaret Cole is in charge. The collection contains 1,500 volumes. In Roaring Spring the library is also located in the high school, and was opened in the early 1920's. There are over 2,500 volumes, with Miss Marjorie Shaffer as librarian. A few years ago a summer project of opening the library to the community was an experiment of the Women's Club which, it is hoped, may be resumed after the war.
The Tyrone High School Library was started about 1916 and has grown to a collection of over 5,000 volumes. Miss Vera Couch is full-time librarian. In Williamsburg the present high school library was begun in 1943. There are over 1,600 volumes in charge of Mrs. Ruth P. Reese, librarian.
In addition to these public school and private libraries in Blair County there are others owned by professional men and women. Law libraries in Blair County are particularly outstanding, both private and county. The Blair County Law Library is located on the second floor of the courthouse, next to the Judge's office and near both courtrooms. Founded in 1871, when the books were bought and paid for by the attorneys and placed there for the use of all members of the Bar, it was first known as the Blair County Bar Association Library. In 1914 the Commissioners of Blair County appropriated money for the books and it became known as the Blair County Law Library. At present it contains more than 7,500 volumes of law books consisting of reports and Acts of the Legislatures of every state in the Union. Among these are rare and valuable old English volumes presented by early lawyers of Blair County. Many of these volumes are so rare that in case of destruction or loss they would be irreplaceable.
This library is one of the most complete of its kind in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is constantly kept up to date by the addition of current decisions and Acts of Legislature of the various states as well as the Acts of Congress of the United States and Supreme Court decisions. The board of managers consists of William L. Hicks, R. A. Henderson, R. S. Hare, and Morgan A. Sheedy is treasurer. Mrs. Elizabeth Chandler is librarian.
It was the Pennsylvania Railroad, through the Altoona Mechanics Library, which sponsored the early lectures and programs first brought to Altoona. It is interesting to note that the first lecture was given at the opening of the library in 1858. Rev. A. B. Clark spoke on the subject, "The Study of History."
Through the latter half of the last century and the very early years of the present one, many outstanding personages were brought to Altoona. Some spoke on technical subjects, but the majority of lectures were of interest to the general public.
The sponsorship of lectures and programs as one of the original purposes of the Association ceased early in the twentieth century. It was logical and natural, as Altoona developed, that outside groups should be organized and that additional specific provision be made for this phase of culture in the county. Prominent among these groups was the County Teachers' Institute, so called until 1913 when local District Teachers' Institutes were organized.
COUNTY TEACHERS' INSTITUTE
In 1847 with four teachers present, the first Institute was held in the little schoolhouse at Collinsville. (This modest little structure is still standing on Pleasant Valley Boulevard.) As County Teachers' Institutes, these meetings were held annually for a period of nineteen years and were of the discussion type. From 1888 these grew to include formal lectures and programs of inspirational character. "Great leaders were engaged to bring messages to the teachers," and to provide for a broadening cultural phase of their profession. These lectures were limited to teachers only at $1.50 per season ticket.
Some of the outstanding speakers from that time until 1913 were Professor C. C. Ellis of Juniata College; Dr. G. M. Brown of Buffalo, New York; Dr. M. G. Brumbaugh who, perhaps, first voiced his theories on "The Making of a Teacher," later the subject of his book of that title; Hon. W. W. Stetson, Superintendent of Maine Schools, who spoke on "The Literary Training of a Teacher."
In 1906 the Institute was held in the "new high school building." Dr. S. D. Fess, then known as the "King of the Lecture Platform," spoke on "Dolly Madison, the Woman of the White House" and "The Twentieth Century Claim Upon Our Young Men and Women," and "James A. Garfield, the Teacher." Nathan C. Shaeffer, Superintendent of Schools in Pennsylvania at the time, made several addresses. In 1909 Hon. R. B. Teitricker, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, spoke on "The Law of Teaching" and "My Boy's Teacher."
At each of these meetings there was one good musical program. In 1898 a John Thomas concert was presented with Miss Goulland, prima donna, which came as a "happy surprise to all."
ALTOONA TEACHERS' INSTITUTE
From 1913 the Altoona Teachers' Institute was conducted on much the same plan as the County Teachers' Institute, its predecessor, through the superintendency of H. H. Baish. It received special stimulation under the superintendency of R. E. Laramy and was placed on a basis of several lectures a year. Through the period of 1926-42 into Superintendent Levi Gilbert's regime, some very excellent speakers and programs were presented to the teaching profession as well as the community; a season's admission was $1.50 to all interested persons. Prominent among those who came to Altoona under the auspices of the Institute were Maurice Hindus, Lorado Taft, sculptor; A. C. Pillsbury, Roy Chapman Andrews, Tom Skeyhill, Earl Barnes, John Langdon Davies, Lew Sarett, Count Von Luckner, Everett Dean Martin, Carl Sandburg, Kilroy Harris, Sidney Landon, Joseph Auslander and Audrey Wurdeman, his wife; Stuart Chase, Richard Halliburton, William Beebe, and Will Durant.
In 1942 under Dr. Gilbert's administration the Institute lectures were abandoned entirely because of uncertain conditions regarding engagements and the impossibility of lecturers to keep them. It is hoped that the Institute may be resumed after the war.
Another group organized specifically to further educational interests was the Current History Club. In 1920 Mrs. W. E. Silliman, Mrs. William Glenn and Mrs. R. J. Fay organized this club, which was very active for eight years. It closed because of the depression, ended • solvent and divided the proceeds between the two hospitals. Some of those persons brought to Altoona through the Current History Club were Dr. W. T. Grenfall, Parks Cadman, Richard Byrd, Ruth Bryan Owens, Stephen Leacock, and Alexander Woolcott.
The Temple Beth Israel Forum, founded by the Sisterhood of the Temple, began in 1935 and functioned through 1940. Some of the persons brought to Altoona by the Forum were Dorothy Thompson, Lewis Browne, H. R. Knickerbocker, Maurice Hindus, Dr. John Haynes Holmes, A. E. Wiggam, Dr. F. L. Sachar, and the late Glenn Frank.
Through the Agudath Achim Synagogue from 1935 to 1945, such speakers as Ludwig Lewisohn, Pierre Van Paasen, S. B. Freehof, Waldo Frank and Jay Allen were presented to Altoona.
The foregoing is indeed an incomplete account of the advantages offered to the citizens of Blair County through lectures and programs. Many service clubs and other prominent organizations of varied interests have been active in bringing persons who have greatly contributed to furthering the educational, recreational, and the cultural life of Blair County.
AUTHORS AND POETS - Eleanore H. Steckman 
In the year of the founding of Blair County, 1846, a young man came from Philadelphia to the town of Hollidaysburg. He was a newspaperman, a reporter on the "Philadelphia Public Ledger." Three years before he had attained some fame as the author of "Simon Girty," a book dealing with the notorious outlaw of the eighteenth century. Certainly his coming must have caused a fluttering of feminine hearts. A novelist — unattached — and only twenty-eight!
His name was Uriah J. Jones and eventually he married a local girl named Margaret Traugh, whose brother Orlando owned the "Hollidaysburg Standard." In 1856 Jones' classic work, "The History of the Early Settlement of the Juniata Valley," appeared. Its author was known as one of the most brilliant literary men of his time; he was an intimate of Edgar Allen Poe; and when later he became publisher of the "Standard" his writings were as widely quoted as those of Bill Nye, who wrote some years later.
Uriah Jones was not a native son, yet Blair County has a just claim to him because of his residence here. He was the first of many historians and has doubtless been the inspiration for those coming after him as well as the source of invaluable material.
In 1880 Harry Slep and James H. Ewing wrote a "History of the City of Altoona and Blair County." Shortly after, 1883, J. S. Africa's "History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties" was published.
In 1893 Samuel T. Wiley and W. Scott Garner collaborated on a "Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Blair County." In commemoration of the semi-centennial of Blair County in 1896 Charles, B. Clark wrote a "History of Blair County."
Jesse C. Sell, Altoona journalist and member of the staff of the Altoona Mirror published in 1911 "The Twentieth Century History of Altoona and Blair County."
In 1932 Tarring S. Davis, with Lucille Shenk as associate editor, published a history of Blair County entitled "Some Local History." In 1938 under the supervision of E. Marie Lentz, the students and teachers of the social studies department of the Altoona High School compiled a history of the county to be used as a textbook in the schools.
In 1940 Floyd Hoenstine re-edited Jones' "History of the Early Settlement of the Juniata Valley." In 1943 Harry Jacobs' interesting work on the "Juniata Canal and Old Portage Railroad" appeared in three bulletins published by the Pennsylvania Department of Internal Affairs.
Miss Ella Snowberger of Curryville is a local historian of note whose writings have been published under the title "Bygone Days in the Cove."
Although not a native of Blair County, Colonel Henry W. Shoemaker is so closely identified with it by reason of his historic legends about this part of our state that we think of him as one of us.
Many business and professional men in the county have written for professional journals. Some have had books published.
John N. Tillard, chief of police in Altoona for almost thirty years, wrote two books, "Pen Pictures of Friends and Reminiscent Sketches," and "Memories of a Track Sore Copper."
Edgar A. Custer, famed in industry, wrote a book entitled "No Royal Road" which tells much of early American history. Samuel M. Vauclain, of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, who began his career in Altoona, has written his autobiography.
Samuel A. Hamilton, of the Wm. F. Gable Company, has written a novel and numerous articles on flowers and many other subjects.
Donald J. Howard, formerly with the Altoona Chamber of Commerce, wrote and prepared the illustrated booklet on "Altoona" published in 1925. He has written a humorous book entitled "Stubby Jenks" and two volumes of poetry—"Ballads of Twelve Months" and "Far Horizons."
There have been many Blair County clergymen who have written for publication. Outstanding is the Reverend James A. Sell, Brethren minister of Martinsburg. He has written a history of the churches of his denomination in the Middle District of Pennsylvania has published a volume of poems, and has written many articles for church and secular papers. He also wrote the story of the "Lost Children of the Alleghenies" which appeared in the book published in 1911 by his son, Jesse C. Sell, mentioned above.
The Reverend Morgan M. Sheedy, L.L.D., rector of the Cathedral parish, published a number of books: "Social Problems," "Christian Unity," "Briefs for Our Times." He contributed much material to the Catholic Encyclopedia published in 1915 and was editor of the "Monthly" (1895-1925). His writings appeared in many magazines.
Reverend C. W. Karns of Martinsburg wrote the "History of Morrisons Cove" which was published serially in the "Altoona Mirror" before it was put into book form.
Cover, Fred H.: Graduate of Altoona High School and Penn State College. His work has been published in the "New Masses," the "Midland," "Williamsport Sun," "The Harp," "The Earth," "Contemporary Vision," "Fantasy," "Stratford Magazine."
Ebright, Frederick: Graduated from Altoona High School. Attended Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Arts in Philadelphia. Engaged in statistical work in Philadelphia. Enlisted in U. S. Army in 1939 and served in the Aleutians during World War II. Has written articles, short stories, considerable poetry. Has been published in "Atlantic Monthly," "The New Republic," "The Virginia Quarterly Review" and "New York Times," "Washington Star," "Christian Science Monitor," "Yale Review" and "New Yorker," and many other newspapers and most of the poetry journals in this country. One poem was reprinted in the Book of Knowledge, 1941 edition, as illustrative of an issue on cargo shipping in wartime.
Geesey, Scott: Graduate of Altoona High School and Penn State College. Taught English in the Altoona High School from 1937 until 1941 when the army claimed him. Served in England, Africa, Sicily. Invalided home in 1943. Served in the Field Operations Division at Camp Lee, Virginia. Publications in which his work has appeared: "Poetry Caravan," "Poetry Forum," "Crown Anthology of Modern Verse," "Stars and Stripes."
Jackson, Mary Ellen (Mrs. Martin Croft): President of the Pennsylvania Poetry Society. Has worked as nursemaid, waitress, and as assistant in the Altoona Public Library. Has written articles, short stories and poems. Has published two books of poetry, "Pedestrian" and "Watchman, What of the Night?" and has had her poems published in forty anthologies, some of which are "Western Pennsylvania Poets," "Listen My Children," "On the Horizon," "Eros."
Jones, Ann (Mrs. Laurence Wagner): Graduate of Altoona High School. Studied journalism at Bethany College in West Virginia. Poems have appeared in the anthology "On the Horizon" and in the poetry magazine "Musings."
King, Lydia M.: Educated at Indiana State Normal and Penn State College. Former art teacher in the Altoona schools. Poems have been published in the "Lookout," "Diadem of the Muse," "Western Pennsylvania Poets," "World's Fair Anthology."
Lantz, Eugene: Graduate of Juniata High School and University of Pittsburgh. Has worked as soda jerker, blacksmith's helper, country school teacher. Now teaches social studies in the Altoona High School. Poetry has been published in "Steps," "New Masses:" "Fantasy," "Troubadour." One poem was translated into French and published in Paris in "Workingmen's Songs."
Lantz, Robert Fleming: Has been a resident of Juniata since 1899. Works as a machinist for the P.R.R. He is well known for his poetry readings. His work has appeared in the "New York Times."
Sell, Ada Cassell (Mrs. Byron M.): Graduate of Juniata College. Has taught school, worked on the "Altoona Tribune" staff. Her writings have appeared in "Story Art Magazine," "American Poetry Magazine," "Pennsylvania Poets," "American Women Poets of 1937."
Staples, Marjorie Wolfe (Mrs. William): Attended Highland Hall, Abbott Academy, Mount Holyoke, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Published book of poems "Many Moods" under her maiden name, Marjorie Louise Wolfe. Also wrote a bi-weekly column for teen agers for the "Altoona Mirror" and "Binghamton (N. Y.) Press."
Warner, Margaret (Mrs. A. E.): Resident of Blair County most of life, except for six years spent on the Isthmus of Panama. Has written articles, fairy tales, short stories and much poetry. Her work has appeared in "Pegasus" and "Scenario Bulletin Review."
Other Blair County poets whose work has been published are: Regina H. Cohn, Ellen Irvin, L. Marie Phillips, Harold E. Stover, all of Altoona, and Mabelle Russ Zimmerman of Hollidaysburg. We must not forget the late Dr. I. P. Patch who wrote extensively of the people and scenes of Blair County.
Alice Fair, a native of Blair County now residing in New York City, haS had much poetry published and has also done outstanding work in art and music.
Mrs. Wm. G. Harvey Smith (Hilda Howard) does feature writing for a syndicate in New York City. Her articles appear in newspapers throughout the country.
Two Blair Countians have achieved national fame as writers of fiction:
Celeste Hanlon Brumbaugh, who writes under the name of Brooke Hanlon, is a native of Blair County now living in Bethesda, Maryland. Her work has been appearing for the last fifteen years in "McCall's," "Saturday Evening Post," "Ladies Home Journal," "Red Book," and many other periodicals.
Dan Wickenden: Born in Tyrone, graduate of Amherst College in 1935. From 1936 to 1937 was employed by the Columbia Broadcasting System. Between 1937 and 1942 worked as a free-lance writer. In 1942 and 1943 was a reporter for the "Grand Rapids Press," Grand Rapids, Michigan. Has had two novels published: "The Running of the Deer," in 1937, and "Walk Like a Mortal" in 1940. A third novel, "The Wayfarers," is scheduled for publication in the spring of 1945. Has contributed short stories and 'articles to many magazines including 'Vanity Fair," "Story," "Ladies Home Journal," "Good Housekeeping," "New Yorker," "Esquire," "Mademoiselle," "Womans Day," "Harpers," "Colliers," "Womans Home Companion." He has written two plays. Is a resident of Long Island where he earns his living as a free-lance writer.
THE THEATRE - Eleanor Wilson Maurer 
For ninety-eight years Blair County has had theatrical entertainment. On April 25, 1848, Town Hall, built on the corner of Mulberry and Wayne Streets in Hollidaysburg, was opened. One of the finest structures of its kind in the state, according to Uriah Jones, it was constructed with a pit and two tiers of balconies. Until a theatre was opened in Altoona about the close of the Civil War, Town Hall was the only playhouse in the county. Jennie Lind, General Tom Thumb and his wife, and Ole Bull played there. Later an Opera House was built on the Diamond, the site of which is now occupied by the State Highway Department and the Acme store.
Altoona has had an unusually large number of playhouses. About the time of the ending of the Civil War, William Rouse and his wife opened the first theatre in Altoona on Tenth Avenue near Fourteenth Street. Both Mr. and Mrs. Rouse were talented players, and portrayed the chief roles in the plays they presented. Somewhat later a theatre was conducted by Lowther and Bare at Eleventh Avenue and Twelfth Street on the site of the present Goldschmid Building.
Altoona's leading playhouse, however, was not opened until October 1, 1888. The Eleventh Avenue Opera House, owned by J. T. Baltzell and Charles Broadway Rouss, a New York merchant, and managed by E. D. Griswold, had its grand opening. The initial performance featured Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Florence in "The Mighty Dollar." A program note promised a little silver hatchet to every lady attending the October 2 performance of "Our Governor."
The Eleventh Avenue Opera House was originally a market house, built in 1868. In 1874 it was purchased by William T. Marriott and sold to Charles B. Rouss on April 23, 1888. Prior to Mr. Rouss' ownership, however, a theatre had been conducted on the upper floor. Mr. Rouss practically rebuilt the building. The Opera House was four stories high, only the upper portion being devoted to theatrical enterprise. Baltzell Brothers, then later the Imperial Dry Goods Company occupied the lower floors. The theatre itself was large, with a main floor furnished with cane-seated chairs, and a gallery. Mr. Griswold was succeeded by I. C. Mishler and Charles S. Myers as managers, who brought many noted actors to the city. This theatre was destroyed by fire on June 14, 1907. A few months prior to its destruction, a law passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature prohibiting the use of any but a ground floor for theatrical purposes, necessitated the discontinuance of this property's use as a theatre.
I. C. Mishler, after his identification with the Opera House, built the best known of Altoona's legitimate theatres. On February 15, 1906 the Mishler Theatre was opened. On October 19, 1906 this building was almost totally destroyed by fire. On November 20, 1906, workmen under the supervision of P. W. Finn, working on three eight-hour shifts, started the rebuilding. Two months and one day later, on January 21, 1907 the rebuilt Mishler - "The Playhouse Perfect and Beautiful" - had its initial performance with Robert S. Murphey of Johnstown, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, making the dedicatory address.
In 1887 Louis Plack built the Mountain City Theatre on Eleventh Street and Twelfth Avenue, the site of the present Penn Theatre. It was opened in February, 1888 by the Emma Abbott Opera Company. Mr. Plack managed the theatre. On March 5, 1889, the building was destroyed by fire, the first of Altoona's many theatrical fires. Mr. Plack built the Phoenix Block, a business building, on the theatre's site. In 1906 it was remodeled into a theatre and opened as the Lyric, conducted by the Keith Vaudeville Company. This building was destroyed by fire on February 24, 1907. It was rebuilt and subsequently named the Orpheum, Embassy, and Penn.
Altoona has had other theatres too, which housed both professional and amateur theatricals. The. Eden Musee, Menagerie, Curio Hall and Theatorium located at Green Avenue and Eleventh Street, was opened on September 5, 1892 by Harry Davis, manager of the Fifth Avenue Museum in Pittsburgh. The East Side Theatre, later the home of the Frohsinn Singing Society, was located on Ninth Avenue and Twelfth Street. It was built in 1891. This theatre seated one thousand people. The World's Museum in the Woodcock Arcade on Eleventh Avenue near Fifteenth Street was built in 1891 and was in operation for several years.
Theatrical performances were also given on the second floor of the fire station at the eastern end of Twelfth Street bridge. Since there was only one entrance to the theatre, and the actors did not wish to be seen by the audience, they climbed ladders and entered through windows behind the curtain.
No history of Blair County theatres would be complete without mention of the Lakemont Park Playhouse, "The Theatre in the Woods." The theatre was part of the Lakemont Park development by the Altoona and Logan Valley Railway Company and was opened in 1892. This was one of the first summer playhouses in the country. It was first managed by Lee Shannon, general manager of the Park. For the first three years the performances were absolutely free. Later, a charge of ten cents was made for the center seats while the side, seats were free. Vaudeville acts which afterwards became national headliners, played here. The first talking machine—an Edison—to be seen in this part of the country, was exhibited here. In this theatre's long history, it brought many fine stock companies for the entertainment of Blair Countians.
Altoona, because of its central location on the Middle Division, had been most fortunate in securing fine entertainment. Consequently almost all of the great artists of the stage have appeared here. Sara Bernhardt, Joseph Jefferson, Richard Mansfield, the Barrymores, John Drew, Mrs. Leslie Carter, Harry Lauder, Maude Adams, Madame Modjeska, Lillian Russell, Henrietta Crossman, Margaret Anglin, Minnie Maddern Fiske, Wilton Lackaye, Otis Skinner, and William Hodge are among the stage great who have played in Altoona.
The first legitimate theatre in Tyrone was Conrad's Opera House at 1050 Pennsylvania Avenue. After it was destroyed by fire, the Academy of Music at 200 East Tenth Street was built. This theatre, with a seating capacity of one thousand, was the largest legitimate theatre 'between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
For over thirty years, W. F. Wise conducted a scene painting studio on West Twelfth Street, Tyrone. He made scenery for theatres throughout the eastern United States.
Amateur theatricals have had great popularity in the county. There are many Altoonans still living who remember Newt Westbrook, Maurice Fowler, Fannie Wilson, and Hal Mackey in light opera. More recently there have been some very successful Little Theatre groups: The Little Theatre, organized in 1929 with F. Woods Beckman as president and Fred Beaudoin, Paul Morrison and Carleton Ayers as directors, played for seven seasons. For four seasons this group maintained a theatre of its own on Eighth Avenue near Twelfth Street. The Altoona Undergraduate Center of Pennsylvania State College organized a Little Theatre in 1939 with Charles Diehl as director. Its plays were produced in the Keith Junior High School auditorium. Another fine amateur group, the Tyrone players, directed by Eugene Dayton, was active in the 1930's. Their plays were presented in the Tyrone Y.M.C.A. auditorium.
Since the opening of the Roosevelt Junior High School in 1924, the three high schools, Altoona, Roosevelt and Keith, have had full-time speech and dramatics departments.
Blair County has contributed some well-known personalities to the theatrical and entertainment world:
Eugene Banks: Born in Altoona July 15, 1922. After his graduation from Altoona High School, he attended the Feagin School of Dramatic Arts in New York City for two years. Traveled with the Clare Tree Major Children's Theatre companies for one year. He spent one season playing with Charles Ruggles, Dorothy Stone, and Charley Collins in "Life of the Party." Eugene is now in a Special Service Force of the United States Army where he has been employed in entertainment work.
Janet Blair: Born Martha Janet Lafferty, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred B. Lafferty. Janet gained fame at home as a singer and dancer. She made her professional debut as a singer with Hal Kemp's orchestra. Carrol Fornroth of the N. B. C. Bureau discovered her, and had her screen-tested. She was signed by Columbia Studios and has made the following pictures: "Three Girls About Town" with Binnie Barnes and Joan Blondell, "Two Yanks in Trinidad" with Pat O'Brien and Brian Donlevy, "My Sister Eileen" in which she was co-starred with Rosalind Russell, "Something to - Shout About," "Once Upon a Time," starring opposite Cary Grant, "Tonight and Every Night," co-starring with Rita Hayworth. Janet is considered one of Hollywood's most promising young actresses.
Arthur Blake: Born Arthur Clark, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur B. Clark. After graduating from Altoona High School, he attended Pratt Institute, Metropolitan Museum School of Art, and Grand Central School of Art. Became a designer of silks for Mallison Silk Corporation, Boucher Colcombe of Paris, Hattie Carnegie. Turned from textile designing to the stage. Arthur has had a most successful career, appearing on the radio and in the country's leading hotels, night clubs, and theatres, giving impressions in a satirical vein "etched in acid." His best known impressions concern Tallulah Bank-head, W. C. Fields, Bette Davis, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, Katherine Hepburn, and Carmen Miranda.
Charles Dickson: Born June 30, 1921. Charles attended the Ruth Barnes School of Dancing for five years. In 1937 he joined the Ballet Russe under the direction of deBasil. After a short time with deBasil's group, he joined Leonide Massine's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. He traveled with this group abroad until war broke out. In 1939 he became a member of the Ballet Theatre in New York. He has been a member of the cast of "This Is the Army" since 1942 when he was inducted into the armed forces. He has toured this country, England, Ireland, Scotland, Africa, Italy, Egypt, Persia, India, New Guinea, and the Philippines with the play. He was also a member of the movie cast of the show.
Arthur Hale: Born Arthur Glunt. Became a studio pianist at WOR of the Mutual Broadcasting System. For a number of years has been a nationally known news announcer for the Mutual Broadcasting System.
Helen Miller Hancock: Daughter of the late Dr. and Mrs. William B. Miller of 1112 Twelfth Avenue, Altoona. Mrs. Hancock left Altoona in September, 1905, under contract to the Star Lyceum Bureau of New York City as a reader and entertainer. Was probably the first Altoona girl to leave home to "go on the stage." Mrs. Hancock was a leading concert reader with the Empire State Quartet, the Criterion Male Quartet, and the Metropolitan Trio, her own company. She appeared on the stage under the direction of Harrison Gray Fiske, Augustus Thomas, the Shuberts and Charles Dillingham; was with the Ben Greet Players in the Redpath Chautauqua; acted as publicity director for Edward Everett Horton's Vine Street Theatre in Hollywood and for Mr. Horton personally, Lois Wilson, Joseph Schildkraut and others. Miss Hancock was daytime program director for WOR in New York City from 1930-1936. Has written, directed and broadcast many radio programs in Philadelphia, Bridgeport, Connecticut and Miami, Florida.
Hedda Hopper: Born Elda Furry in Hollidaysburg on June 2, 1890. In 1908 she ran away to New York where she secured her first job in a Broadway musical. Miss Hopper married the famous actor, DeWolf Hopper, in 1913. In 1918 she starred in her first movie, "Battle of Hearts" with William Farnum. From 1921 to 1926 she appeared in many Broadway plays under the banners of Selwyn, Harris, Shubert and Arthur Hopkins. During this period she appeared in the first motion picture ever produced by L. B. Mayer. From 1928 to 1935 Miss Hopper appeared in one hundred and ten pictures, under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In 1936 Miss Hopper signed her first radio contract, and in 1938 wrote her first newspaper column. In 1939 she broadcast her first coast-to-coast radio program, for the California Mint Grower's Exchange. In 1940 Miss Hopper made six motion picture shorts for Paramount. These shorts, known as "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood," cover interesting subjects in the film colony and are still being shown throughout the country. Miss Hopper is best known today for her column, "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood," which is syndicated throughout the country. Surveys show that Miss Hopper's column has the largest circulation of any column emanating from Hollywood. Estimated daily readers: fifteen million. During the last three years feature articles about Hedda Hopper have appeared in "The Ladies' Home Journal," "Time," "Life," and "Look."
Gretchen Houser: Gretchen is the daughter of Mari Tamsun Houser. In the summer "of 1939 she went abroad with her uncle, Milo M. Thompson, then chief of the Associated Press of Europe. Gretchen studied and danced in London and Paris until the outbreak of the war. Upon graduation from Altoona High School in 1941 she entered the Roxy Theatre as one of the famous "Rockettes," remaining with that group until the opening of the most recent "Ziegfeld Follies" in which she danced. She remained with the "Follies" until the show closed in 1944. At present she is appearing in the Olsen and Johnson musical, "Laffing Room Only."
Robert Houser: Son of Mari Tamsun Houser and brother of Gretchen. Robert spent the summer of 1938 and 1939 with the world-famous Ted Shawn, who chose but sixteen men from the entire United States to join his group. In 1939, upon graduation from the Altoona High School, he joined the Littlefield Ballet of Philadelphia, specializing in character dances. He was known for his Indian interpretations. He danced a season with the Chicago Civic Opera Company, and a summer at the New York World's Fair in the "American Jubilee." He has toured the country introducing the dance as a cultural study. In September of 1942 he enlisted in the Navy. He was selected for officer training and sent to Penn State. While there he staged the dance numbers for the big Navy Revue.
Roy Hoyer: Son of a former Altoona mayor. Attained fame as an actor and more notably as a dancer. He played under the management of Schubert, Klaw and Erlanger and Dillingham. Mr. Hoyer was with Fred Stone for many seasons.
William Hughes: Son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hughes. He is a graduate of Harvard University where he devoted most of his spare time to the college dramatic club. He made his professional debut at the Bass Rocks Summer Theatre in Gloucester, Massachusetts, appearing with Diana Barrymore, Elsa Maxwell, Teresa Wright. He toured the Army camps, playing in "The Male Animal." William also toured in plays with Glenda Farrell, Maria Oupenskaya and Lionel Atwill. In the spring of 1945 he was making a tour of the European area in "Dear Ruth," playing opposite Dorothy McGuire.
Paul Morrison: Born and educated in Altoona. Paul first attracted attention in connection with the staging of some of Clifford Odet's plays. Recently he has been most successful in his designing and staging of sets.
MUSIC - Mary Bair Wright 
From the time of the early pioneers, music has played an important part in the social life of Blair County. Singing societies, held in country schoolhouses or farm houses, drew crowds of young people to join in learning folk songs and hymns. These usually were led by the schoolmaster with his tuning fork—and lucky was the community that had a fiddler for accompanist.
The oldest known musical organization in Blair County is the Altoona City Band, organized in 1853 and continuing to the present. It was primarily a Pennsylvania Railroad institution and existed under a number of conductors. Most famous of these were Jules Neff, .who assumed leadership in 1877 and continued to lead the band for forty-one years, and Albert Sincer, who took over in 1923 and is still the conductor. Other leaders were John K. Findlay and William J. Connor, both deceased, and Lloyd Plette, who has become well known in Minnesota for his work with bands and his musical compositions and arrangements. The band has enjoyed considerable fame under all its leaders but especially the first two named. With Mr. Neff the band journeyed to Washington, D.C., for several presidential inaugurations and on the occasion of Benjamin Harrison's inauguration they were received at the White House.
Mr. Sincer has been equally successful and under his baton the Altoona City Band took first place at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial.
Other bands of the city that have added to the musical history of Altoona were the Mountain City Band under Fred Horst, the Junior Greys with Cloyd Kerlin as conductor, the Central Pennsylvania Band with H. F. Faber and the Altoona Junior Band. The last named was organized in 1927 with Cecil Shirk as conductor and W. D. Melchor as manager. In 1937 it became the Pennsylvania Railroad Band under the same manager but with John White succeeding Fred Hagar as conductor.
Other bands of note in Altoona are the Police Auxiliary Band with Thomas McFarland, the Jaffa Shrine Band under Don M. Kimmel, the Jaffa Drum and Bugle Corps under Joseph Dickson and the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps. Many former members of these bands are overseas at the present time with the 128th Division Band.
In 1922 the late Joseph S. Barker organized the Altoona Symphony Orchestra and conducted its first concert in the Penn Alto Hotel in May, 1923. The following season Mr. Barker relinquished the baton to his son, Harold H. Barker, and the orchestra continued to offer the first symphonic music in Blair County. This group presented many local soloists and brought several fine artists to the city. In their efforts to create an opportunity for both the performing and hearing of great music, this group of earnest musicians can be credited with laying the cornerstone for the later organization of the same kind.
Perhaps the best known musical organization in Blair County is the Altoona Civic Symphony, Inc., with Russell Gerhart as organizer and conductor. This group, first known as the Gerhart String Ensemble, gave two experimental concerts in 1928-29. These were so successful that a full program of concerts was given the following year in the Senior High School auditorium and an executive board was formed with Mrs. Florence Douglas Nugent and Leonard C. Moffitt as president and secretary-treasurer respectively. From this beginning the orchestra has grown from a twenty-four piece string ensemble to a fully instrumented symphony orchestra.
It is managed by a board of directors and each subscriber is a member of the organization. In 1943 the orchestra moved to Jaffa Mosque in order to accommodate its growing audience. There the musicians are seated under the central dome and form a fascinating picture as well as a source of the world's greatest music. An advisory board of fine artists including John Erskine, Carlos Salzedo, Mischa Mischakoff, and George Miquella have expressed their interest in the orchestra by many helpful suggestions. The present organization is headed by Mrs. W. B. Archey, president and Leonard Moffitt, treasurer. Marie Rodkey has been the concertmeister throughout the existence of the orchestra. Mr. Gerhart has greatly enriched the life of the community through his work with this orchestra.
In 1940 a group of church organists formed themselves into the Blair County Chapter of the American Guild of Organists for the purpose of studying and fostering interest and appreciation of organ music. Alfred Ashburn was the first dean of this group, which is at present headed by Harry Hitchen, organist of the Christ Reformed Church. This guild has sponsored many fine organ recitals to which the public has been welcomed.
The first chorus of note to be organized in Blair County was the Altoona Male Chorus in 1908 under the leadership of Fred Lane. This choir enjoyed great popularity and on one occasion gave Cowan's "Rose Maiden" in the old Jaffa Temple with Regina Gority, Luke Moran Anderson, Walter McEldowney and Eugene Wentzel as soloists.
In 1921 the Altoona Works Choir was formed, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and led by Fred Lane assisted by Harry Heeter. Later Howard Lindaman took over its leadership. The choir made many concert trips to Philadelphia, Reading, Atlantic City, and other cities as well as broadcasting over KDKA in Pittsburgh.
ALTOONA MUSIC CLUB
In 1922 the Altoona Music Club, a chapter of the Pennsylvania Federation of Music Clubs, was organized by Miss Laura Rickabaugh and Mrs. Homer Miller and attained a membership of over nine hundred people. It consisted of a Junior Chapter and a School of Drama as well as an adult choral group. The choruses first under the direction of J. H. Roberts and later Martha Roberts gave the "Elijah," "Messiah" and similar offerings. One program was made up of the work of Altoona composers. They sponsored the appearance of Marian Talley, then at the height of her career. This organization regrettably ceased to exist in 1929.
The Altoona Vesper Choir, founded in 1934 and directed by the late Harold Barker, has become a very vital part of the musical life of Altoona. It is a group of about eighty well-trained and well-selected voices, putting on a number of inspirational programs each year. It continues its fine work under the capable leadership of Martha Roberts and is now managed by a board of directors.
OTHER CHORAL GROUPS
Many smaller groups have banded together for the purpose of studying and producing fine music in Altoona. Among these are the Jaffa Chanters under the direction of Howard W. Lindaman and the Y.W.C.A. Chorus under the leadership of Mary Jane Sayers.
The Altoona High School Glee Clubs, bands and orchestras have enjoyed great popularity and have furnished much good entertainment in the city and nearby places. Mrs. H. O. Jones (Euphemia Heilman) first full-time music supervisor, organized the first of these groups and set a high standard that has been maintained. Later Harold Compton had great success with the high school instrumental groups. At present the bands and orchestras are of almost professional quality under the guidance of Frank Krivsky.
The man who has done most to popularize music among the young people is Howard W. Lindaman, the present supervisor of music in the public schools. Of all the musical organizations with which he has worked, the High School A Capella Choir is the most outstanding and the perfection of this group makes them a welcome addition to any program.
MUSIC IN BLAIR COUNTY
Perhaps the most famous musicians from Blair County are Waring's Pennsylvanians, headed by Fred Waring of Tyrone. In 1917 Tom Waring, Poley McClintock and Fred Buck organized their Snap Orchestra for playing at dances. Fred, then a student of Pennsylvania State College, soon joined and following a successful trip to the University of Michigan they started on a series of tours over the United States that kept them constantly in demand for many years. About 1932 they embarked on radio work which has continued to the present time with unprecedented success. Fred Waring soon took over the leadership of the band, for of the two brothers Fred is a business man while Tom is the aesthete who has turned out smash hits and has held one-man exhibits of his paintings. The present Tyrone members of the band are Fred Waring, Poley McClintock and Fred Campbell.
Tyrone has always supported local bands and choruses under the leadership of Professor Pattieger, Carl Keefer, Harry L. Stewart, Harry T. Smith, Frank E. Jones, and George B. Piper. Professor Eugene Dayton, a noted pianist, is at present on the faculty of the Greer School and Miss Mary Davis, a talented young singer, is becoming well known on the concert stage.
In Williamsburg there have been several organized brass bands, notable among which was the C. M. Schwab Band organized as the Williamsburg Grays on 1890. In the southern part of the county Professor Berger Baker has been successful in organizing musical societies and bands among the young folk.
In Bellwood about the time of World War I, a civic association sponsored a band which gave a series of out-of-door concerts. Earlier than that a chorus under the leadership of C. F. Moore was organized and gave several programs in the Opera House. Mr. H. H. Meyer and Mr. Charles T. Derrick were actively interested in the county musical affairs.
One of the earliest bands organized in the county was the Hollidaysburg Band under the leadership of Harry Van Treese. This band began to give concerts about 1865 and continued for many years. There was also in Hollidaysburg the Schubert Club, organized about 1935 and directed by Mrs. Frederick Lane McGiffin. This club, together with an instrumental trio made up of Russell Gerhart, violinist, Thomas Caum, cellist, and Helen Brehman, pianist, gave many fine concerts in nearby towns.
The Frankstown Friendship Band, one of the most famous in the county, was organized about 1890 with William Wolf as first conductor and was active for many years.
The Roaring Spring Glee Club under Professor Yates has enjoyed great success in both concert and radio.
ART - A. Pauline Rhodes 
Art in Blair County is young, compared to the other cultural phases of its history and the county's economic, social, and industrial growth. It has been in the past few decades only that art-minded individuals have striven to put forth the idea that there is a place for creative beauty in Altoona and Blair County.
The Art Institute was organized in Altoona in the 1920's. Its members believed that "there is a place for beauty and culture in Altoona even though Altoona is essentially a workingman's town." A. C. Lefgren served as president; Paul R. Kuhn served as secretary; Paul T. Winter was the treasurer, and Donald J. Howard was made chairman of the permanent collection committee. Four pictures by internationally known artists were acquired for the permanent collection:
"February Thaw" by Emile Walters was acquired by purchase. "Mother and Child" by Mary Cassatt was purchased in Paris and presented to the Institute by Colonel Henry W. Shoemaker.
"Connecticut Landscape" by Henry W. Ranger, N. A., was purchased through the National Academy of Design.
"October" by Donald Deskey was a gift to the Institute by the artist himself.
The Institute in its short existence held three exhibits by local artists and four exhibits by noted painters. These exhibits included the work of George Harding, Jules Breton, Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, Anton Manne, Edward Moran, E. H. Potthast, C. W. Eaton, Cullen Yates, and many others of equal fame. All exhibits were free to the school children and general public of Altoona and Blair County.
The Altoona Art Center was created by a group of Altoona art lovers who, inspired by the success of art institutes in other cities, met on February 15, 1934, to discuss the possibility of setting up a similar organization here. At an official meeting in the Senior High School, David Royer was made chairman of the group and a board of directors made up of Mrs. Keim, Mrs. Hogue, Mrs. Neuwahl, and Mrs. Knucker was elected. An election of officers resulted in Dr. Louis McKee being chosen as president, Mrs. W. D. Hogue, vice-president, and Miss Esther McVey, secretary-treasurer. Meetings were held semi-weekly, and attendance steadily increased. The group was divided into classes; Mrs. Keim instructed the advanced classes, while Mrs. Nugent taught beginners. The third floor of the Webster School building was offered the group as a studio by Dr. R. E. Laramy. The School District supplied the members with drawing boards. The group continued to work under various instructors until the Pennsylvania State College opened a junior college in the building and absorbed those interested in art into their classes under the instruction of George Bowman.
The art group of the Blair County Branch of the American Association of University Women has been active in sponsoring art lectures, exhibits, etc., in Altoona. Among some of the outstanding persons attending and lecturing the study group have been Miss Margaret Lee, director of educational work of the department of fine arts at Carnegie Institute, and Herbert Johnson, cartoonist for the "Saturday Evening Post." Samuel Calvin's portraits and landscapes, and collections of prints from the Museum of Modern Art in New York have also been featured in exhibits by this organization.
Blair County's interest along the lines of art was stimulated by various art exhibits brought to Altoona by interested patrons, Among these, of particular interest in addition to the ones mentioned were several sponsored by the A.A.U.W. Outstanding was the one-man show of the Philadelphia watercolorist, John Dull; also an exhibit titled "American Painters" loaned by the Museum of Modern Art. At one time an original painting by Rosa Bonheur titled "Old Dobbin", one of her famous equine studies, was displayed by the William F. Gable Company. This painting was making a tour of the country, and Altoona was one of the communities which had the privilege of seeing it.
The murals on the walls of the Altoona Postoffice, done by Lorin Thompson of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania under W. P. A. supervision in 1937, portray Altoona's babyhood. Thompson had in mind the early social, economic, and industrial history of Altoona and Blair County in preparing these murals.
In Hollidaysburg, above the main altar of St. Mary's Catholic Church hangs a life-size picture in oil of "The Crucifixion." It was painted in 1844 by a traveling artist, M. J. DeFranca, for the sum of four hundred dollars. The item concerning its presentation appeared in the "Hollidaysburg Standard" for the week of March 23, 1844.
In the possession of Fred C. Gerst is an oval oil painting of the race mill and covered bridge at Williamsburg, and includes Ake's store where the passenger station is located and the old Hoover homestead, which is still standing. The picture is unique in its perspective, similar to many other paintings of its day. It was painted by W. C. Metz, a resident of Williamsburg, in 1870.
Blair County's art history is truly a biography of the artists who have worked and lived here. The following .persons with their various backgrounds, are representative of this group:
Samuel Calvin, outstanding among all artists in Blair County, was born at Rodman, Blair County, March 19, 1881, and was given his first art instruction by Ellen Pope Galt of Hollidaysburg Seminary. He has since studied with Candace Wood of Bucknell, John Todd Hill and James Wood of Drexel, and with Vincent Newettny and Frank Duveneck of the Cincinnati Museum. Mr. Calvin's work in composition and illustration was done with Howard Pyle. He studied figure, design, modeling and painting in Paris at the Academic Deleuluge under Emil Frenuet. Samuel Calvin taught at the Hollidaysburg Seminary and at the Army School in Le Mans, France, after the Armistice in 1918. Calvin has exhibited in various groups. He has painted many portraits and religious subjects. His murals, principally of historic and religious subjects, may be found in many public buildings throughout Blair County. Among his noted works are portraits of the judges of Blair and Bedford Counties.
Many of his portraits and paintings available locally which were exhibited through the A.A.U.W. in 1943 at the Penn Alto Hotel are: [titles omitted]
Matt Calvin is a Hollidaysburg artist interested in landscape and animal painting. His outstanding works have been done in water color. "A Snow Scene" in water color was among those pictures exhibited at the Samuel Calvin exhibit in 1943.
Mary Cassatt, regarded as one of America's greatest woman painters, was born in Pittsburgh in 1855 but did live for a time in Altoona with a brother, A. J. Cassatt, a former Pennsylvania Railroad president. While residing in Altoona, Mary Cassatt sketched on the hillsides in the northwest section of the city. She is most famous for her portraits of mother and children. Her pictures, very few of which are privately owned, soared in price immediately after her death. The great French painter, Degas, standing before one of Cassatt's pictures while she was still young in her career, said: "I will not admit that a woman can draw as well as that!"
Frederick A. Counsel, a graduate of the Altoona High School and the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art, was born and reared in Eldorado. He has studied under Thornton Oakley, Gertrude Schell, John Dull, and George Sklaar. He is a member of No. 10 Gallery in New York City, of the Allied Artists of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and has been nominated to the membership in the Society of Arts and Sciences in New York. Counsel's biography is included in "Who's Who in American Art" for 1940-41. His works have been reviewed by Paris art journals, "The Art News," "The Art Digest," "The New York Times," and "The New York Herald-Tribune." His works hang in the Washington, D. C. Public Library, Detroit School System, Altoona School District, Madison, Wisconsin, A. A. Base, and at Bradley Field, Connecticut. The Wisconsin Art Association awarded him first prize for his "G.I." subject in their 1943 show.
John DeStefano, an Altoona artist largely self-taught, is well known for his large industrial group painting, "The Crane," an Altoona Shop subject. "The Crane" hung in a place of honor at a Carnegie Gallery Show in Pittsburgh. A group of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, art patrons purchased this work for the Greensburg High School. DeStefano is a portrait painter, and also has done many Pennsylvania landscapes.
E. J. Halow, born in Syria near ancient Tyre, was a descendant of an old race of artists and craftsmen who were the inventors of a dye that became known as Tyrian purple. Halow came to America at an early age. He attended school in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, before coming to Altoona. During his career in Altoona he painted many portraits and landscapes. Many of his works are privately owned by Blair County families. Halow has been given press notices by such critics as Payton Boswell, "International Studio Magazine" editor; Lena McCauley of the "Chicago Evening Post"; Royal Cortissog of the "New York Tribune"; Lula Merrick of the "New York Telegraph" and R. A. Lemon of the "Art World Magazine." Halow's career ended with his early death.
Donald J. Howard, an annual exhibitor at the Associated Artists' Exhibition in Pittsburgh's Carnegie Galleries, has confined most of his work to Pennsylvania landscapes, but has done some marines. Don Howard has gained most of his knowledge through observation and study with Emile Walters, American landscape painter. Howard's first art venture was in 1914, when in a competition arranged by Colonel Henry W. Shoemaker, he won the prize for designing the official flag for Altoona. Howard was one of the Altoona Art Institute organizers.
Nils O. Hultgren of Balboa, Panama, and a former resident of Altoona, has won national recognition as a sculptor. He won the first award in sculpture and received honorable mention for his exhibits at the fourth Annual Art Show sponsored by the Balboa Amader Road USO Club during the American National Art Week in November of 1944.
Charles W. Mann was born in Chambersburg in 1885 and moved to Altoona at an early age. Vitally interested in the fine arts, Mr. Mann has given much time and talent to painting. His field is landscape, sincerely done. His canvases are owned and prized by Hedda Hopper, Walter Damrosch, Edward G. Robinson, and others.
Joseph F. Shoenfelt, a graduate of the Altoona High School and of the Indiana State Teachers' College, painted the mural dealing with the history of Indiana State Teachers' College, which hangs in that school.
Sterling B. Smeltzer graduated from College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1931. He was associated with Planning and Publicity Departments, State Parks Department, Conservation Commission of West Virginia from 1933 to 1942. From 1942 to date he has been Director of Service Engineering Department, Curtis Wright Corporation, Columbus, Ohio.
 K. Virginia Krick - a native of Altoona, Pa. Received B.A. degree at Hood College; B.L.S. at Columbia University. Is librarian at the Altoona Public Library; member of the board of directors of the Blair County Historical Society.
 Eleanore H. Steckman - a native of Altoona, Pa. Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Oral Hygiene. Editor of the "Pennsylvania Dental Hygiene Quarterly" for six years. Had an article published in "Mademoiselle." Received E. A. degree from Juniata College. Is now teacher of English at D. S. Keith Junior High School.
 Eleanor Wilson Maurer (Mrs. Louis K. Maurer) - a native of Altoona, Pa. Graduated from Hood College with B.A. degree. Established the dramatics department in D. S. Keith Junior High School; originated "the "Keith Varieties." Has been active in Little Theatre and radio work.
 Mary Bair Wright (Mrs. Harold C. Wright) - a native of Altoona, Pa. Graduated from Pennsylvania State College with B.S. degree. Attended Lock Haven State Teachers' College; studied art at Carnegie Tech. Is now teacher of art and history in the Altoona School District, art supervisor in the Logan Township schools. A member of the board of directors, Altoona Civic Symphony.
 A. Pauline Rhodes - a native of Altoona, Pa. Received B.S. degree at Shippensburg; M. Ed. Pennsylvania State College. Is teacher of art and dramatics in the Altoona School District.
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