Ihlseng Cottage was constructed in 1898 as a faculty residence, and the first person to inhabit the cottage was Professor Magnus Ihlseng, the first Dean of the School of Mines. After Ihlseng resigned in 1900, he sold the cottage back to the College, and the residence continued to house successive Deans of the College of Mines until 1914.
A scarlet fever outbreak in 1913 necessitated the establishment of a hospital on Penn State’s campus. In 1914, Ihlseng Cottage was converted into an infirmary and in 1915, Penn State hired Dr. Warren E. Forsythe as the resident college physician in what was then called the “College Health Service.” College Health Service opened on January 15, 1915.
The conversion of Ihlseng House into an infirmary was supervised by Dr. Forsyth and cost $5,000, which was raised from private philanthropy. The first floor included a waiting room, the physician’s private office, an operating room, and dispensary and health service laboratory. The second floor was room and equipment for six patient beds.
It was free for students to receive medical attention from 9 a.m. to 12 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on Saturday evenings from 7 to 8. It cost $1.25 per day for each bed patient, a small fee for surgical operations and special examinations, $0.50 for a daytime visit to a student’s room, and $1.00 for a nighttime visit. All proceeds went to the maintenance fund for the health service, and the health service also got funding from the $4.00 annual fee that all students paid to the department of physical education; the “gymnasium fee.”
In the first year of operation, Dr. Forsythe and two nurses handled over 11,000 patients, 200 of which resulted in overnight stays. The Health Services Building, as it was called, was used for this purpose until 1929.