Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Our 1909 Building Explained in Architectural Terms

This building is three stories high and five bays wide. Above the stone basement, the building is essentially masonry laid in several different bonds. After a row of stretchers in straight bond, the first story is laid in Flemish diagonal bond (1). In the second and third stories, the areas around the windows are laid in Flemish double stretcher (2). The piers, the frieze, and the parapet are laid in running bond (3).

In the first story, four marble stairs flanked by blocks, each surmounted by a scroll and ball, lead to a double door with a rectangular transom (4). This is contained within a shallow portico consisting of two unfluted columns with truncated caps and thin abaci supporting an entablature with a braced cornice(5). To either side of this are two double hung, eight-over-eight windows with splayed, flat-arched stone lintels having large brackets as keystone(6). A stone belt course serves as the sill (7).

Above the first story windows is a wide, projecting stone belt course(8). The three inner bay windows of the second story (French with sixteen lights, fanlight transoms set in keystoned stilted around arch-lintels of straight bond) rest on this belt course(9). Between these windows runs another stone belt course which is flush with the façade (10). This forms the sill for the two outer bay windows of the second story(11). These windows are double hung, six-over-six with splayed, flat-arched stone lintels which have keystones.(12) 
Between second and third story outer bay windows are two rectangular niches emphasized by headers laid in straight bond(13). Outer bay windows are flanked by flat brick piers which rise from stone bases atop the projecting belt course above the first story windows, and terminate in stone composite capitals which appear at the lower edge of a blank stone frieze located just above the third story windows(14).

Third story windows are all double hung, six-over-six with moulded stone framing, flat-arched and keystoned at the top, resting upon a braced sill(15). In the outer bay windows, a swag relief appears beneath the sill(16).

Appearing above the aforementioned blank stone frieze is a row of dentils, immediately above which appears the moulded, braced roof cornice(17). The cornice supports a brick parapet topped with stone(18).

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Our Building Explained in Architectural Terms

This building is three stories high and three bays wide. It is laid in common bond, and has a stone water table and details.
In the center of the façade’s first story, four steps flanked by stone blocks (1) lead to a double door with a one piece, round-arched transom overhead (2). This is contained within a beveled, stilted round arch which contains vertical anthemion bands (3) below the impost block and above, in the intrados of the arch. At the crown of the intrados is a cartouche flanked by palmettes(4). Between the transom and intrados is a band of rinceau moulding(5). Beneath, the extended portions of the impost blocks are puti heads(6). At the crown of the arch, above the cartouche, is a bracket which serves as a keystone(7). The extrados are filled with egg-and-dart moulding(8).
To either side of the entrance, the basement is pierced by two casement windows, each containing one light(9).
First story windows are arranged in two pairs. They are double hung with stone sills and moulded, flat-arched frames which contain terra cotta tiles with foliate motifs(10). The surface of the first story façade achieves a rusticated effect through deep incisions in the masonry which occur at intervals of two feet(11).

Between the first and second story windows is a stone belt course underscored by a strip of egg-and-dart moulding(12).
Second story windows are arranged in threes. These windows are all single hung with six lights, and have four-light transoms overhead(13). The window groups are contained within a large, moulded cornice supported by flat pilasters with composite capitals(14). The frieze of the cornice contains two rondelles flanked by ribbons(15). At either end of the frieze is an egg moulding(16). The junctions of the muntins and mullions contain cruciform mouldings with inscribed squares(17). In the outer window groups, a tablet bearing a wreath surround an open book appears beneath either outer window(18).
Third story windows are double hung 1/1, and have a common flat-arched lintel and sill(19). A flat, rusticated, fluted pilaster appears at either end of the window group(20), while in between bays, fluted, rusticated colonnettes resting on projecting, bracketed, cornice-like dados, support the lintel(21). Above the pilaster and colonnettes are rondelles(22).
The braced roof cornice is coffered between the braces(23).

From the Maryland Historic Trust's Building Survey, 1975

Friday, September 1, 2017

Marble Art

I was scanning the Morgan Library's fabulous Instagram feed when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. The photographer, Abelardo Morrell, who was at one time, a security guard at the Morgan, took pictures of all of the inside covers of Henry David Thoreau's journals.
He put them in order from first to last to create a huge collage of the beautiful marbleized end papers. 
You can read about the project in the New York Times, here. And here it is in place at the Morgan.
I thought it would be a fun idea to create a similar project for an item at our upcoming Silent Auction, in honor of the inauguration of Gary Pushkin, MD in October. 

We have loads of books with marbleized end papers, so there's no shortage of patterns that we can use. 

 Stay tuned for the final project.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Revere Osler: December 28, 1895 - August 29, 1917

In March 1915, Revere Osler went off with one of the Canadian contingents, and was given duty at one of the hospitals as an orderly officer. The hospital was one of the best in England, and had been erected at Cliveden, the Astor estate. Osler was a consultant to this hospital and visited the McGill Unit at Camiers. A postcard sent from Montreuil-sur-Mer, on the way, is characteristically Oslerian: “Here with Revere – such a lovely walled town – the first stopping place of Sterne on his Sentimental Journey. Am sending you a full account of my trip.” How many Sterne enthusiasts would remember that at such a time?

Revere was now an assistant quartermaster at Camiers, awaiting his call to the combatant forces. Before this time came, he had a leave and went home to Oxford where, during his stay, the house caught fire and threatened the loss of the library. All this time, the “Open Arms”, as the house at 13 Norham Gardens came to be called, was just what its nickname implied. It was always full of guests coming and going. Everyone turned to the Oslers in their trouble.
Revere had one more leave. He was now with the Royal Field Artillery and was getting his training. Osler took refuge in his books, and evinced an active interest in his growing collection, as many references in his letters of the period testify.
His activities in the hospital continued and many a cable went to Canada to cheer the recipients. These usually read, “Has been seen by Osler considers doing well”. He wrote many letters and received and answered hundreds of cables of inquiry from anxious relatives. He was much moved by the injustice of a Canadian Commission appointed to investigate the care of Canadians in the hospitals. As a protest, he resigned his position as consultant to the Canadian Hospitals, but later on, when the commission was replaced, his resignation was withdrawn.
Towards the end of 1916, Revere was in the 593 Brigade, Battery A, and was stationed on the Seine right in the thick of the fight. [This was the Battle of Ypres)
Until August 29 of the next summer, he continued at it. Then, while he was at work preparing to move the battery, a shell struck, and wounded him severely in his chest, thigh and abdomen. He was carried to the dressing station, but in spite of transfusion and operation, he died before morning. The great-great-grandson of Paul Revere was buried near the place he fell.
Osler made the following entry concerning this blow:
I was sitting in my library, working on the new edition of my textbook, when a telegram was brought in, “Revere dangerously wounded, comfortable and conscious, condition not hopeless.” I knew this was the end. We had expected it. The Fates do not allow the good fortune that has followed me to go with me to the grave – call no man happy till he dies. 

The War Office telephoned at nine in the evening that he was dead. A sweeter laddie never lived, with a gentle, loving nature. He had developed a rare taste in literature and was devoted to all my old friends in the spirit – Plutarch, Montaigne, Browne, Fuller and above all, Izaak Walton, whose Compleat Angler he knew by heart, and whose “Lives” he loved.

There is no need to attempt to picture the sorrow or the bravery of the stricken father. Sir William and Lady Osler remained a day in seclusion and then courageously took up the challenge of comforting others. He continued his routine duties in the cataloguing of his library. He resumed work on a new edition of his textbook, the work interrupted by the news of his son’s death.
Osler entertained soldiers and friends, trying to be his old self and even deceiving those who did not know him well. But all the time, he continued to lose weight. To a friend who had had a similar loss, he wrote:
Grief is a hard companion, particularly to an optimist, and to one who has been a stranger to it for many years. We decided to keep the flag flying and let no outward action demonstrate, if possible, the aching hearts. 
The Edward Revere Osler Memorial Fund was established by his parents at the Johns Hopkins University. This took the form of a Tudor and Stuart Club, with club rooms and a library, the nucleus of which was Revere’s own collection. The Club was “to encourage the study of English literature of the Tudor and Stuart periods” and the fund was for the “purchase of further books relating to these periods, and in the promotion of good fellowship and a love of literature among the members.”

This passage is from 
"Sir William Osler: A Personal Biography" by John Ruhräh, MD, 
published in 2015 by MedChi.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Back at Home

Shockingly, we do not seem to have a copy of Osler's Practice of Medicine in our collection. I am positive that there must have been one here at some point. Surely the good Sir William Osler himself must have given a copy? But as I've searched the shelves in the stacks, I've never some across one.
After my trip to McGill, I realized that I needed to rectify that omission. So I put in a query for the book on Ebay and came up with a copy that hit all of the right buttons. It was old and it was inexpensive!

The copy is dated 1894, and is apparently a second edition copy. It's missing its back cover, but that's okay.

There's a penciled note on one page of James Wilson Fox of Buffalo, NY.  I can't quite decipher whether there's a date above or below it.
There was a Dr. Fox in the area close to Buffalo, but he disappears in the 1920's.

This copy seems also to have been the property of Dr. Oscar J. Eichhorn who was at the University of Maryland in 1917-1918. His delightful bookplate was on the front cover. 
And there is also a note indicating it was a birthday present to "Dad" on June 29, 1954. 
As I mentioned, I bought the book on eBay from a seller in Kentucky, so who knows where he got it.

But what really matters is that there's now a copy at MedChi once again. It will have a special place in the Krause Room, which was originally the Reading Room. 

Although Osler would not have had the chance to spend time in this room, he talked at several times about how much it meant to him to be with older and younger physicians discussing medicine and sharing information.  

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Grey Lady, a Doctor's Coupe

As I was sorting through the pictures of Marcia I found at the Maryland Historical Society, one of them caught my eye, mainly because it wasn't a picture of Marcia. 

It was a picture of her car, which she called "The Grey Lady", and along with the photograph, there was a little card, explaining the car and offering people a ride in it. She also mentions that the car has her monogram on the door! 
I was curious about the car, and could get a general date of the time period because the picture was taken in front of 1211 Cathedral Street, which was built in 1909. I estimated the car to be late 1910's or so, but checked with a friend who collects vintage cars. He confirmed the general date, and informed me that this particular car was known as a "doctor's coupe" and that it wasn't a Ford, because at that time, Ford only made black cars. So it was likely a Buick or a Dodge. 
Apparently, small cars like this, with two seats and a large trunk, were preferred by physicians who made house calls, and could carry a nurse and a lot of equipment. The coupe had to be dependable in all sorts of weather, day or night, so it was an enclosed car.

Unfortunately, most of the early 1900's Medical Journals are bound, and have had the advertising pages at the beginning and ends of the volumes removed, so I can't check and see if there are adverts for these Doctor's Coupes. 
What is interesting is that Marcia, probably in her early 40's at that time, had her own car and was driving herself around the city and environs. She was the Executive Secretary of the Faculty at that time, and probably had a lot of meetings with physicians. They couldn't always be expected to come to her. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Letters Between Old Friends

I recently spent an afternoon at the archives at the Maryland Historical Society a week ago, specifically searching for more information about our Marcia Noyes. A number of years ago, many of our files were transferred to the Historical Society, so that much of the history of medicine in Maryland would be centrally located.

There was a file with letters to and from Sir William Osler, and his wife, Lady Grace Osler, as well as Osler's nephew, William W. Francis, who became the guardian and organizer of Osler's massive collection of books. 

Francis and Marcia were about the same age and knew each other through Osler, with whom Francis lived for several years. When Osler's books were transferred to McGill University, Francis came along with them and became the first Osler Librarian.

"Dr. Billy" and "Sister Marcia" kept in touch, bound by their love of Osler, and their professional love of books. Both were involved with the Medical Library Association (MLA). Letters between the two are funny and candid, in the way that long-time friends have. 

The two grew old together through their letters, and commiserated about their ailments. Both were sad that Francis's hospitalization prevented him from travelling to Baltimore for Marcia's 50th Anniversary party, and in their letters, it was clear that they knew they'd never see each other again after one last MLA meeting. 

On Marcia's death, Francis sent a telegram to the Faculty, with the following words: Well done good and faithful Sister Marcia. Farewell to Osler's earliest from his latest librarian.

William Willoughby Francis died in 1959.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Visiting the Biblotheca Osleriana

I was in Canada last week for a short break and I took time to visit McGill University, Sir William Osler’s spiritual home.
As you might remember, I got to know Sir William quite well when I transcribed and subsequently published a biography of him, from a manuscript originally written in 1934. Additionally, writing this blog has presented me with plenty of opportunity to get to know him even better.

I literally started my visit at the bottom – the bottom of a huge hill. I went to the Rare Books collection at McGill in the morning,

and had a chance to see some of their massive collection of books, as well as their architectural archives and ancient printing press (above). 

Because this is the Fiftieth Anniversary of Expo 67, there was a good collection of Moshe Safdie’s works, including Habitat in Montreal, and Cold Spring New Town in Baltimore, just off of Cold Spring Lane, as well as some architectural models. 

After lunch, I headed up the hill to Boulevard Sir-William, where the Osler Library is located.

It was originally in another spot on campus, but when a new medical school building was built in the early ‘60s, the library was taken apart and moved to the new space.

Sir William and Lady Grace Osler are both interred at McGill, behind a bronze plaque,
which is nearly identical to the one at MedChi’s Osler Hall. Ours has a bit more patina than McGill’s does,
but their space is climate controlled, unlike ours! 

The space is all old oak, stained glass and thousands of books, which were originally catalogued at Oxford and then sent to Canada. 

It took several years after Osler’s death in 1919 for all of this to happen because there were so many books!

It was fun to look up on the ceiling and see this painted there.
There was one for each of the four schools with which Osler was affiliated professionally.

I have to say that the visit was more emotional than I expected. Although he was never at the library named for him, his presence was all around.

One sad note: During my visit to the Osler Library, I found out that Professor Michael Bliss, who wrote the extensive and definitive biographies of Drs. Harvey Cushing and William Osler, and whom I had hoped to visit in Toronto, died suddenly a few weeks before I decided to visit. We had several good conversations after I published the Osler book, and he was furious that he hadn’t taken the time to read through the manuscript from our archives. He told me that it corraborated two stories that he had found, but wanted an additional source for them. And both were in our book. His obituary is here.

The staff at the Osler Library and the Rare Books collection could not have been warmer and more welcoming to me and I was delighted to be able to spend time visiting with them! Thanks so much!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bringing the Past to Life

When we look at all of the old black and white photos in our collections, they seem so flat and lifeless, even if they include lots of people. In our minds, these aren't real people, because they don't look like the people we see every day. 

But when you add color to the image, it instantly comes to life. I am the resident photoshop wizard, so have played around with colorizing some of our images here. 

The first picture I did was our Marcia Crocker Noyes. As you might know, we like to pose Marcia for the holidays. But when you've got a black and white Marcia on a bright sunny beach, it doesn't look right. So, she needed to be colorized. 

I went down to the Krause Room and tried to channel Marcia, so I could figure out what colors her dress and cape were. I had to guess on some things, but overall, I am pretty happy with the result.

Next up was one of MedChi's early headquarters buildings. This was a lot more of a challenge, as it was on the second floor of the Emerald Hotel on Calvert Street. There were tons of advertisements, windows, brickwork and other details, so it was a perfect job for that odd not-quite-holiday day.

Finally, I played around with a group of physicians from the late 1800's. They're a dour bunch, clearly posing for the camera. I am not sure if that's a room at an early HQ building of ours, or a backdrop set. 

Half of this picture is in color, so you can see the contrast.
And here's the fully colorized version. 

I looked at old advertisements for men's clothing in the late 1800's to come up with the color. I picked hair and eye colors based on closely looking at each of the men and making educated guesses. I have portraits of Drs. Chew and Donaldson, but Chew's hair is white, and Donaldson's hair is a close approximation to this. 

I realize that there are a lot of people who hate the idea of colorizing images, but it's not like the original people or places were in black and white. We are just giving them life again.