200th Birthday of Historic Davidge Hall is Celebrated
A birthday party worthy of the oldest medical school building in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere was celebrated Oct. 26, at historic Davidge Hall on the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Davidge Hall was constructed in 1812 and the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997. Faculty, staff, and students led by University President Jay A. Perman, MD, participated in the celebration.
One of the highlights of the celebration was the planting of a cloned tree from the original Davidge Elm. The young tree had been nurtured by Dr. Richard Taylor, MD, ('75) and his wife Kathie Taylor at their Pikesville home. They participated in a ceremonial planting (photo above) with President Perman, School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, and Larry Pitrof, executive director of the Medical Alumni Association, which has its offices in Davidge Hall.
Recently, Pitrof was interviewed about Davidge Hall for the COMCAST Newsmakers segment:
Named after its founder and first dean, John Beale Davidge, Davidge Hall was constructed as the founding medical school building and since then has been meticulously restored into the marvel it is today.
To date, all 17,000 students educated by the University of Maryland School of Medicine have passed through the doors of Davidge Hall.
Situated on the northeast corner of Lombard and Greene streets, amidst rolling fields on the western outskirts of the city, the medical college in the early 19th century commanded an unbroken view of the Patapsco River.
It is said that from the porch one could watch the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814. The building was very large for its day, but no matter how elegant, life inside for medical students and their mentors often left much to be desired.
Although traditionally attributed to Robert Cary Long Sr., an important Baltimore builder and architect, the blueprint of the building exhibits characteristics found in the architecture of Benjamin Henry Latrobe and Thomas Jefferson, who helped introduce classical revival style to the New World. Evidence suggests the French architect Maximilian Godefroy, with Latrobe's assistance, may have been involved with the design.
Completed at a cost around $40,000, Davidge Hall stands on land purchased from John Eager Howard of Revolutionary War fame.
It fell to the doctors teaching medical classes at the time to fully finance the construction of Davidge Hall, which illustrates their dedication. The building remains as the only tangible evidence of how medicine was taught in the early 19th century. Additionally, it houses a collection of medical artifacts, including a mummified human, paintings, and instruments.