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Full text of "History and construction of the medical building of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland / by Edgar W. Blanch."

HISTORY AND CONSTRUCTION Off THE MEDICAL 
BUILDING OP THE UNIVERSITY QV MARYLAND 

IN BALTIMORE, MARYLAND 

BY 
EDGAR W. BLANCH 



Presented aa an entrance requirement 
to Maryland Beta Chapter of 
Tau Beta Pi 



April, 1932 



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. vmxt 

The history of the Medical Building, starting with the Til^ns, 
discussions, and dreams of the founders j nl working up to the erec- 
tion of the .Medical Building at Lombard e.nd Jreene streets in 1812 
was largely obt'inei f fch« very thorough hl»tori«&l writings of 

Eugene P. Cordell, 

The npterial for the writing o' the construction »f the build- 
ing was obtained by observation "nd interviews with oersonj familiar 

with the building. Ho pl?.ns or records -were available due to the 
age of the structure. 







„«*>*"" 

^^^ 



Tio 



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BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Historical Sketch of the University of jfciryland-- 
Sugene S\ Gordell 

University of Jaryland- -Eugene 5*. Gordell 

The Centennial Celebration of the Foundation of the 
University of dryland-- John C. Hem-meter 

History of Baltimore City and County — J. T. Scharf 

Chronicles of Baltimore — J. T. Scharf 

dryland Historical Jagazine 

Maryland Historical society 

Baltimore Sun 

Bureau of Buildings of Baltimore City 



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HISTORY Of THE UNIVERSITY OF ifARYLAND 
MEDICAL BUILDIN3 

The establishment of the University of Jiirylmd may he 
regarded as the final and crowning event of a long series of 
discussions, solans and attempts, all, looking towards organization 
of the profession and the securing of opportunities of advanced 
medical instruction for this community. 

The first indication of a tendency towards a community 
of interest and action in the profession was an interesting 
discussion in the newspapers, uion the subject of medical reform 
and suppression of quackery, which began in 1785 and -w^a carried 
on for several years. A society tds formed by the physicians of 
the town for the purpose of discussing the most eligible plan for 
the carrying on of this movement, but further pngress was ended 
by the death of the leader, Dr. Charles Frederick Wisenthal. 

In the fall of 1789 a more complete organization of the phy- 
sicians of the town was effected by the formation of the "Medical 
Society of Baltimore* under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Wisenthal, 
a son of the above, and Dr. George Buchanan. Under auspices of the 
society dissection was attempted and the body of an executed 
criminal was procured for the instruction of students of anatomy 
and surgery. The people of the town, however, interfered and took 
possession of the body, which greatly damaered the spirit of the 
teachers, wisenthal continued to conduct classes until his death 
in 1798. 






HISTORY OF THE QIXTORSXTT OF MARYLAND 

MEDICAL BUILDING 

The establishment of the University of Maryland may be 
regarded as the final and crowning event of a long 3eriea of 
discussions, ^lans and attempts, all looking towards organization 
of the profession and the securing of opportunities of advanced 
medical instruction for this community. 

The first indication of a tendency towards a community 
of interest and action in the profession was an interesting 
discussion in the newspapers, upon the subject of medical reform 
and suppression of quackery, which began in 1785 and wns carried 
on for several years, A society was formed by the physicians of 
the town for the purpose of discussing the most eligible plan for 
the carrying on of this movement, but further pngress was ended 
by the denth of the leader, Dr. Charles Frederick Wiaenthal. 

In the fall of 1739 a more complete organization of the phy- 
sicians of the town was effected by the formation of the "Medical 
Society of Baltimore" under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Wis en thai, 
a son of the above, and Dr. George Buchanan. Under auspices of the 
society dissection was attempted and the body of an executed 
criminal was procured for the instruction of students of anatomy 
and surgery. The oeople of the town, however, interfered and took 
possession of the body, which greatly damper ed the spirit of the 
teachers. Wisenthal continued to conduct classes until his death 
in 1798. 






The College of Medicine of dryland, the present School of 
Medicine of the University, owes its foundation to Dr. John Beale 
Davidge who settled for practice in Baltimore in 1^96, He early 
entertained the idea of founding here a school of medicine and was 
only deterred by the lack of cooperation of other physicians. In 
1802 he started classes in Anatomy, Surgery, jtidwifery, and Physi- 
ology. These classes were held twice a week and were continued until 
1807 when the "Medical College Bill" was passed by the legislature. 

J mes Cocke and John Shaw associated themselves with Davidge* s 
project in 1807. They conducted classes in a small building erected 
on ground belonging to Davidge, on Liberty Street, just south of 
Saratoga. They secured a subject as had their predecessors and met 
with a similar fate when it became known. This mishap resulted in 
a great loss for Davidge and interacted the classes for a time, but 
it had the effect of bringing the profession to the support of the 
enterprise. 

Sometime early in 1808 a building was secured standing on 
the southwest corner of Fayette (then called Chatham) Street and 
McClelland Alley, which had formerly been used as a school house, 
but h^d been tenantless for several years. It was consequently in 
a dilapidated condition, but was repaired as far possible and served 
the purposes of the College until the completion of the building 
on the corner of Lombard and Greene Streets in 1813. The want of 
a suitable building for the purposes of the College had been pain- 
fully felt from the first, and the ways nd means for securing it 



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had been frequently and anxiously discussed . There being no 
available structure in the city, it was necessary to build one 
and the only way in which this could be done was by the help of 
a lottery. Lotteries were the faTorite resort in almost every 
enterprise of the day, coming to the aid of both public and private 
enterprises. These lotteries abounded in the legislative enact- 
ments of the state for a half century and supplied a large revenue 
towards a means of carrying on the government. 

The first act authorizing the drawing of i lottery for the 
benefit of the College was passed by the legislature on January 20, 
1808. The amount derived from the lottery was not to exceed §40,000* 
Other Acts relating to the University lottery were passed during 
the sessions of 1311, 1813, 1816, 1820, 1826, n.nd 1327. The amount 
derived reached as much as $140,000. nothing was derived from the 
lottery until after the college became a University, and the expenses 
were meanwhile borne by the members of tht, *\_cul.ty, who made them- 
selves personally responsible for the debts incurred. Loans from 
banks and individuals were effected and help and encouragement was 
given by a number >f public-s >irited citizens, especially John Eager 
Howard, Robert Oliver, and Robert Oilmor. 

The purchase of the lot on the northeast corner of Lombard 
"nd Greens Streets, from Colonel Howard for the nominal sum »f Mo 009 
is one instance of the liberality of that citizen. 

The plan for the erection of a building on this lot was en- 
trusted to R. Gary Long, an eminent architect, to whom Baltimore 



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ie indebtei for n^ny of h*r h-'nascsne ni Mittwlllg structure*. 
In accordance with his piano, an i/nposins structure was erected, 
Ti.->deled u;->on classical lines, which, still after ■ century and a 
quarter, attracts the attention of all beholders, nnd seems destin- 
ed to endure for centuries* 




The Roman Pantheon — Concrete Dome nearly 2,000 years old — Rome, Italy 



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:ICAL MHXXUM 

The >l n for the erection of the .terylnd .led teal Bui id 5 ng 
on the lot at id Greene Streets was entrusted to R. Cary 
Long, a noted architect, who gave to B lti -tore many of her out- 
standing buildings. In following out his plans, n imposing structure 
modeled upon classier! lines, was erected, i nd its masive propor- 
tions seem destined to endure f >r centuries. 

The style of architecture is that wM>h was so common in 
t', j o d-ya, nnd is seen in many ©f Baltimore^ buildingsi The 
Cathedral, The Universalist Church, the ^cXim School, the old 
•fa sonic Temple, etc. Long selected the Pantheon at Rome for his 
model, and therefore it my well h w excited the pride and admira- 
tion of i> cuity md citizens, for it was at the time of its erection, 
without doubt, the finest structure devoted to medical education 
to be found in the Hew World* 

The Pantheon is a celebrated temple t i.ome, built in 27 B« '. 
by 4 reus ^rippa. It i lnrge edifice of brick built in circular 
form with a portico of lofty columns* It h s the finest dome in 
the worldf 142J- feet internal diameter, 143 feet tstom 1 height! 
-md its portico is nlmost e.u^liy celebr ted. It is now a church 
nd is known as s^nta iri Kotonda. Rf;ff;»el and other famous 

mm ft InarMI .viiv.in it,j v.- i -..-. 

The following description of the Jedicr 1 Building was given 
in the f 11 of lil5i "The splendid edifice which constitutes the 



ifedical College, aa the center fron wnlefc the other A tents 

are to diverge, etftAda on Laah rd Street extended in the western 
end of the city. It iy constructed on the pl&a of the P^nthem 
at Rome. The front faces on the "7": ahlngton Road, oo ending an 
extensive prospect down the . t paoo and Ches- peaks. The grandeur 
of the building's exterior does not excell the ii 1 convenience 
of the apartments. The An* toxical theatre, with its atoagpaiTJ ap- 
pendages, If '.a extensive ; : nd appropriate as those of nny of the 
European Jchools. The lecturing room alone is capable of contain- 
ing twelve hundred persons with convenience. The chemical hall, 
immediately below, is but little inferiori it will accomodate : bout 
a thousand, a part of its are' being taken off by the laboratory 
and necessary ao . r* tus. The r tus is complete, ecomraodated 
to the t- ate ni views of the learned professor." This article 
was t ken from the "Viator" , !Jil«3 weekly Register, September 15, 
1315. 

The writer of this article h^s apparently erred in his judge- 
ment of the seating car: city of the lecture rooms mentioned above. 
The floor sp' ce has not been altered since the original building 
was erected ■ nd now only accommodates three hundred students. 

The builders, Towson ».nd Mosher, st rted operations in 1811 
• - ni the corner stone was l'?id in May ni2 by Colonel John Eager 
Howard. 

It is 1 ■■.rge brick building, the circular form of which 
h" s an external diameter of sixty-five feet Mai walla of ei -hteen 






inches thickness throughout. The oortico extends twenty- five feet 
to the front and is ornamented by eight massive thirty inch columns. 
The columns appear to have "been bricked up and stuccoed and they 
are remarkably well preserved. 

There are offices on e ch side of the rectangular oortico 
which also contains a stairway to the upper floor of the circular 
portion. The second floor of the portico is suitable for little 
other than store space due to the very irregular low roof above. 

A six foot passageway encircles the entire circular oortion 
on each floor and contains entrances into the tiered classrooms 
within and offers exit by * wooden circular stairway, six feet in 
diameter, in zhe northeast corner of the building, which evidently 
served as a fire escape. The stairway is now in very poor condition 
-nd is little used. 

The lower lecture room is entered on two level 3 , fB the ground 
floor level by four tunnels under the tiers of seats and on a higher 
level at the top of the tiers. The seating space fp.ces the south 
side of the building and rises from floor level to about twelve 
feet. In the south mil are built smelting furnaces which were a 
p rt of the modern equipment of which the original faculty was so 
proud nd ire now obsolete but are preserved because of their histor- 
ical int -rest. 

The upper lecture room is also entered on two l«Y8lB,the 
second floor level by two tunnels and the top of the tiers by four 
entranoes. The seating space extends around the entire wnll. The 






dome above |« of brick and I in light through ei^ht ak fll ;hta 
four feet in dianster, pi cei at forty-five Avgrefi intervale p.nd 
are ten feet In from the outer wall. At the to^ of £o4 dome la a 
1 -rg« skylight, twenty feet in diameter which is divided into fifteen 
decree sectors. Th* skylights form an excellent method of lighting 
which is much superior to the light supplied by the windows in the 
lower lecture roiau 

Xhe Medical Building was one of the first to use g^s illum- 
ination, which was introduced into Baltimore by R. Cary Long a pio- 
neer in gas illumination. The building is now modemly equiped with 
electricity. 

Defective wiring during the installation of the electric 
system caused a fire about ten years ago. The fire spread under 
the wooden braced tiers of the lower lecture hall and greatly weak- 
ened them. Apparently no effort has been made to repair the damag« 
but the seating space above is still in use. The building as it 
•1 nia, with it3 wooden constructed interior, ia very subseeptible 
to fire. 

The construction of the building allows very poor utiliz - 
tion of space and it is no longer suitable to be used for laboratory 
or research work, but now furnishes only lecture space. 

Dr. T.O. Heatwole, Secretary of the Baltimore School b if 
the University of dryland )lans to renov te the building and util- 
ize the so-ce to a better purpose. Devoted to the ourpose that 
he pl n ns and with the historic background which it now possesses 



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the JLvdic 1 Ittildlag « .11 beco'ie one of the mt :. ;andin3 points of 
interest ia the »tate of dryland*