Brodbeck Music Hall remains the oldest building on the Hood College campus. Built in the shape of a German cross in 1868, it was a social gathering place for the early German settlers, and later served as a florist shop, a farmer’s home, and a warehouse before it was purchased by the Woman’s College of Frederick for educational use in 1897. In its early years, it was a residence for faculty, staff, and even students.
It has been the scene of every sort of gathering for college students, including lectures, plays, concerts, faculty skits, student reviews, Halloween parties, chapel services, campus vespers, communion services, funerals, weddings and an ordination. Brodbeck’s role in the history of the College has been varied and amazing, evoking different memories for different generations of the Hood students.
Appropriately, the building bears the name of one of Hood’s earliest and strongest supporters, The Honorable Andrew R. Brodbeck. A kind and generous friend of the College and an ardent supporter of higher education, Andrew Brodbeck was born in York County, Pa., in 1860. The son of Jessiah and Louisa Renoll Brodbeck, he lived most of his life in Hanover, where he was one of the county’s most prominent citizens. Educated in the public schools, he started teaching at age 16 and throughout his life was interested in educational institutions, even though he left the teaching profession to become a successful merchant of agricultural machinery, farm implements and fertilizers.
Active in the affairs of his community and church, Mr. Brodbeck was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he served in that capacity until his death in 1937. He was noted for his liberal and good judgment and strong and dependable convictions. In 1923, Hood renamed what was then known as College Hall in honor of “The Honorable Andrew R. Brodbeck, L.L.D. and his family in recognition of his generosity in providing for its remodeling and enlargement.” In addition, the road leading from Dill Avenue to Brodbeck Music Hall was named Brodbeck Drive.
Mr. Brodbeck gave generously of his time not only to Hood, but to other colleges affiliated with the Reformed Church (United Church of Christ), including Catawba College. He also was named to the board of Ursinus College, which conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on him.
Mr. and Mrs. Brodbeck had four children: a son, Winston, who died at an early age, and three daughters, Clair Brodbeck Young, and two who graduated from Hood, Estelle Brodbeck Young ’99, and Viola Brodbeck Fleagle ’08. The daughters were all musicians, which added to his interest in Hood’s music program, housed in Brodbeck, and the establishment of music scholarships.
He died at age 76 on February 27, 1937. The large attendance at his funeral attested to the place he had made for himself in the community and in educational circles. President Emeritus Apple and President Stahr of Hood both took part in the service, and the flag on the Hood campus was lowered to half staff for two days as a symbol of respect.
Brodbeck Music Hall and Brodbeck Drive on the Hood campus, Brodbeck Music Hall at Catawba College, and Brodbeck Dormitory at Ursinus College stand today as permanent memorials to the interest, dedication and philanthropy of Andrew R. Brodbeck.