The handsome Victorian on Elkridge’s Main Street now known as the Brumbaugh House was built around 1870 and began serving as a doctor's office in the nineteenth century. The home’s most famous resident, Dr. Benjamin Bruce Brumbaugh, started his own sixty-year-long career working and living at the house in 1919. Dr. Brumbaugh served thousands of Elkridge residents over the decades and the house continues to tell his story today. Since 1985, the Elkridge Heritage Society has operated the house as a small museum to share the long history of medical care in their community.
Born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Brumbaugh graduated from the University of Maryland Medical School with degrees in both pharmacy and medicine. When the United States entered World War I, Brumbaugh enlisted as a doctor for the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County where three infantry divisions trained before deployment to Europe. Brumbaugh tended to many of the 400,000 servicemen who passed through Fort Meade during the war.
After his discharge the military at the war’s end in 1918, a former advisor from the University of Maryland shared the news that Elkridge needed a temporary doctor. The town’s regular practitioner Dr. Ericson had suffered a stroke and was unable to work. When his predecessor passed away two months later, Dr. Brumbaugh took over the practice permanently.
For nearly fifty years, Brumbaugh worked alongside his wife, Miriam Smith, who was herself a doctor’s daughter up until her death in 1958. Over much of that time, Dr. Brumbaugh charged just $2 for an office visit or $3 for a house call. Over the years, Dr. Brumbaugh (or Dr. B as many of his patients called him) became something of a local celebrity with an office full of patients from the early morning to late evening. He did not raised his fees until 1969—but then it only went up by a dollar. In a 1970 Sun interview, Brumbaugh explained:
“I’d rather treat them for free of charge than have them think I’m overcharging. I was never out for the almighty dollar. I work just to keep alive, not for what I can get out of it.”
That same year, the community recognized his fifty years of service to the Elkridge community. Nearly four hundred neighbors and long-time patients pooled $3,900 in donations to buy the doctor a brand-new Mercury sedan. Howard County even changed the name of a road off Main Street to Brumbaugh Street in his honor.
Dr. Brumbaugh served three generations of Elkridge residents and continued working until he was ninety years old. By one resident’s estimation, he brought “thousands” of Elkridge babies into the world. Dr. Brumbaugh never kept count but reportedly delivered ten children for one family alone. There are many area residents who still proudly call themselves “Brumbaugh Babies.”
The year after Dr. Brumbaugh’s death in 1985, the Elkridge Heritage Society and local Rotary Club bought the home to preserve the doctor’s office and waiting room. A group of volunteer residents helped turn the second floor into an apartment to help pay the mortgage on the new local history museum. Fortunately, their efforts have preserved Doctor B’s story for residents and visitors to continue to appreciate today.