When Albert Brodhead learned of James Ward Packard's large gifts to Lehigh, he asked then university treasurer Walter Okeson if Packard had visited Lehigh since his graduation. Okeson said no, and Brodhead replied, "It seems to me if an alumnus without any local contact with the university can do so much, that I, who have always lived here and whose father was one of the early trustees of Lehigh, should do my share."
Brodhead's father, Charles, for whom Brodhead Avenue is named, acquired extensive properties in what was then South Bethlehem and was involved in the iron and railroad industries. A business associate of Asa Packer, Charles was an early benefactor of Lehigh, donating the land on which the Alumni Memorial Building stands. A Bethlehem native, Albert Brodhead joined Chi Phi fraternity, the Photographer's Club, and the Electrical Engineering Society while attending Lehigh and graduated in 1888 with a degree in electrical engineering.
Brodhead spent his career managing the family real estate, most of which was located in the Bethlehem area, including the historic district, South Bethlehem, and the then-undeveloped farmlands north of Route 22. He was an organizer and director of the Northampton Country Club and belonged to several other social organizations, including the Bethlehem Club.
When he died in 1938, he left the bulk of his estate – 51 Lehigh Valley properties – to Lehigh. Subsequently, the multi-million dollar Brodhead endowment was established, and Brodhead House, the university's first high-rise residence, was dedicated to his memory in 1979.