DuBOIS — In the near future, the original building of the former Maple Avenue Hospital will be coming down to make way for the new expansion of Penn Highlands DuBois East Campus Behavioral Health Hospital.
Next Sunday, the public is invited to take a tour of the original building during a “Memories of Maple Avenue Hospital Open House” to be held from 1-3 p.m. at 635 Maple Ave., DuBois.
Maple Avenue Hospital meant a lot to many people, including Betty Brown, who was born at the hospital on Aug. 5, 1921, just three years after it opened in 1918. This marked the beginning of her ties to the hospital that she would have throughout her life.
“My dad’s cousin was Dr. E. E. Houck and my dad, Dr. Willis Alford ‘W.A.’ Houck, came to work for him. He had just finished his internship in Pittsburgh,” Brown said. “I was born a year after he came to town. We lived on Main Street when we first moved to DuBois but later my father built a home on Maple Avenue and we moved there when I was 8 years old.”
Brown’s five children, with her husband, Bill Brown Jr., were all born at Maple Avenue Hospital and delivered by her father – three girls and two boys.
“And three of the girls worked in the kitchen during high school,” Brown said.
Her son, Bill Brown III, is retired now, but had been a physician assistant throughout his career at the hospital.
In 1980, Brown recalled they added the other half of the building, which was referred to as Project 80. That part of the building will remain, according to hospital officials.
“And the Phoebe Tyler home is already down,” Brown said. “There was a nursing school here in town. My dad taught them when he first came. And the nurses could stay there, slept there and everything. And we always had a big rummage sale inside and we always had a big strawberry festival in the summer, and all of Maple Avenue came and the auxiliary was big. Of course, it was all the ladies that lived around the hospital. My mom and Ethel Houck and Mrs. Klein, Dr. Klein’s wife, they lived three in a row there.”
At one point, Brown worked in the snack bar and remembers an X-ray doctor named Dr. Unger.
“He always wanted a certain way with his hamburger when he’d come in to eat at the snack bar. And so they named them, ‘Dr. Unger Burgers,’” she said with a laugh.
Most of the doctors lived on Maple Avenue, she said.
“There was my house we first built. It’s right below the hospital,” she said.
Brown said she was a med tech but she never worked at Maple Avenue Hospital.
“When I left, I was going with someone here. I didn’t want to go to school,” Brown said. “My dad, he was funny. Everybody said, ‘Oh, he’s so gruff.’ He was not gruff. He just had a great sense of humor, but when he was serious, he was serious. He said, ‘You’re going to school, and you can stay 25 years, but you’re not coming home until you finish.’ So, I finished and then I went up to Columbus and worked for two or three years. My folks got sick, and I came home. And, I’m glad I did because I married Bill,” Brown said.
She said she volunteered at the Maple Avenue Auxiliary as well as a smaller auxiliary known as Clara Hall, which used to give out scholarships. Two of Brown’s daughters received scholarships to attend nursing school through Clara Hall.
She said her mom and dad were both school teachers before her dad went into medicine.
“He loved his work. He was very dedicated,” Brown said about her father. “I know my dad always went in the back door of the hospital because our house was right there. That’s something that those doctors did.
“Doctors did everything back then,” she said. “My dad did like setting a leg or broken bones, tonsils, appendix. Your family doctors did everything. Specialties didn’t start for a long time.”
Those planning to attend the open house may enter using the north wing entrance of Penn Highlands DuBois East. Areas will be marked for self-tours thanks to help from the DuBois Area Historical Society, and also current and former staff will be on hand.
Anyone who has an old photo of the building – inside or out – or of past staff, are asked to bring it with them. The hospital would love to make a copy while they wait to possibly display later. Refreshments will be served.