Monday, December 31, 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018

Picture Hanging

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we uncovered our beautiful skylight at the top of our main staircase. To our shock (and I am not kidding!), there was a huge wall there. Of course, logically, we knew there was a wall, but since the top of the staircase was so dim, it was just darkness!
After a bit of plastering and painting, the wall looked great. Bare, but great. So instantly, my next project suggested itself. I needed to find some paintings to highlight the space. 

There are more than 120 paintings in our collection, but not all of them are widely seen, so I scouted four paintings that were in little-used spaces. There was already one hanging on the staircase, so we just shifted his position. 

I realized a few years ago, when we were redoing Osler Hall, that it made a world of difference to hire a professional art installer, so we called him and his crew back to help.   
We took the original picture hanging on the staircase and centered it and then added paintings on either side. 

Then we took two more and staggered them down the stairs. 

During all of this hanging, I came across a picture from Roosevelt Hospital in New York, taken in 1937. 
I think that it would be a lot of fun to arrange the MedChi staff around the stairs and take a picture for posterity. 

Here's the final layout of the paintings. It's a little hard to capture the width and length of the staircase though. 
Stop by if you're in the area and see this now-bright staircase!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Seeing in 3-D, Circa 1905

One of the most interesting things in our collection is a number of boxes of photographs from "Edinburgh Anatomy" which contain hundreds of slides. 

In 1905, David Waterston edited "The Edinburgh Stereoscopic Atlas of Anatomy", which consisted of 250 stereograms, mounted on cards, and housed in five volumes. 
The "Edinburgh Atlas" was prepared under the control of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh. In 1908-1909, the general anatomy was followed by the more specialized Edinburgh Stereoscopic Atlas of Obstetrics in four volumes. 
At the same auction where I found the Yardley map of Johns Hopkins, I also found one of the devices used to view the stereograms. 
Although we already have one of the stereoscopes, it's in another cabinet, in another part of the building.
Now the viewer is with the images. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Skylight is OPEN!

At the top of the main staircase at MedChi, there is a leaded glass skylight. Not that you'd ever have noticed it, because it's been covered up. 

The skylight was on the original specs and plans for the building, which was dedicated in May of 1909. Since Marcia had her apartment at the top of the stairs on the fourth floor (far right), it would have lit up the whole area. 
The skylight was originally covered during World War II, as many were during that period.
Blackout regulations were imposed on 1 September 1939, before the declaration of war. These required that all windows and doors should be covered at night with suitable material such as heavy curtains, cardboard or paint, to prevent the escape of any glimmer of light that might aid enemy aircraft.
During the 1980's, MedChi received a grant from the Maryland Historic Trust to uncover the skylight, and it was open for about a decade or so. At some point, a roofer suggested that we cover it up to prevent future leaks. And so we did. We were not using Marcia's old apartment, so it didn't really matter if it was dark at the top of the stairs.

Fast forward to this year. We are now using the apartment for offices, and the top of the staircase is lit by one light, which was not enough to chase away the gloom. 

We investigated opening the skylight again and began working with a local roofer on the project. They needed to uncover the skylight, and fabricate a clear cover to protect the leaded glass. Because the skylight is inset into the roof, there needed to be a way for the water not to pond on the glass. And of course, we wanted to protect the 110-year old glass.

After making sure it wasn't going to rain (haha) and bringing in a massive boom crane (with an extension!), the cover arrived and was placed on the roof. 

Once that was finished, the old cover was pulled off, the leaded glass skylight was cleaned and the new cover was installed. It was an all-day job!

But when it was finished and the sun shone through it, we knew it was worth every bit of effort!

But of course, nothing's easy, is it? Once the top of the staircase was lit up with natural light, we realized that we needed to paint the walls (they are pink!) and also the stairs themselves. The darkness of the staircase hid a lot. But once we've accomplished the painting, it will be beautiful once again. We hope that this makes Marcia happy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Marcia and the entire MedChi family send their wishes for a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Map of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Circa 1950

I was at a country auction this weekend and one of the items that came up for bid was an old "map" of Johns Hopkins Hospital by the cartoonist, Richard Q. "Moco" Yardley. The Moco comes from his old nickname, a play on Eskimo.

Yardley drew a number of these fun maps. I know of ones for Baltimore County, the Eastern Shore, Anne Arundel County, and of course, Baltimore City, which was done for the Orioles. Yardley was the Sun's cartoonist from 1939 to 1969 and did mostly editorial cartoons. 
Yardley's maps are very detailed and have a lot of little "inside" jokes in them. Readers must remember that they were drawn in the 1950's and things that were common then, can be offensive to some today. With that said, here's the map I found.

The map references Osler, Halsted and Walsh, but Kelly is missing. You can see the Phipps and Wilmer Clinics and the main building. And as in all of Yardley's cartoons, there is a little rendering of him, which looks nothing at all like he did in real life!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the first Armistice Day, I wanted to share this bronze plaque with you. 

This large bronze tablet was given by the Baltimore County Medical Association sometime in 1919 and was installed in the then-ten year old building as a memorial to the "great war."
Lest We Forget

Monday, November 5, 2018

School #49 Mini-Reunion

In September, MedChi was pleased to host a group of School #49 alumni who gathered to celebrate the dedication of a bronze plaque which now graces the front of the building. 
The event was spearheaded by Celeste Pushkin, mother of MedChi’s immediate past president, Dr. Gary Pushkin. She and a group of fellow “49ers” donated funds to install a bronze plaque on the façade of the building, acknowledging its place as an accelerated school for gifted children from across Baltimore. Click here for a piece in the Baltimore Jewish Times about the dedication.
When the renovations to the building were completed in the mid-1980's, a reunion was held across the street at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Mr. Meyerhoff had attended School #49) and a book filled with decades of memories was published. You can download it here

If you have any memories of your time at School #49, please email them to us here

Evening with the BSO & MedChi

Please join us for a fun evening!
Please click here to purchase tickets.
 You will be taken to a separate secure website to purchase your tickets via credit card. 

Students and residents, 
please email to make your reservation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween

Marcia, our resident ghost,
wishes you a Happy All Hallow's Eve. 
Be safe.

Friday, October 12, 2018

In Celebration of the Old School

We have recently held a mini-reunion of alumni of School #49, the old school where MedChi is now located. We acquired the building in the 1970's, but waited a few years before we renovated it in the mid 1980's. Once we did, we had a reunion of the School #49 alumni. A small booklet of remembrances was published, which included a wonderful article by R.P. Harriss, the Critic-at-Large for the old News American paper. His wife was on the faculty at the school, which opened in 1909 and closed in 1960. 

In Celebration of the Old School
By R.P. Harriss

Among Baltimoreans, who by almost any measurement, would be rated successful, a remarkable number are known as "Forty-Niners." They take this designation pridefully, from the fact that they went to School 49.

They're so prominent, so self-assured and generally, so prosperous, that in planning their coming reunion, they have engaged Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, because their dinky little old school house, which still stands at 1206 Cathedral Street, would be too small and cluttered for the high-class hoopla they're planning.

Why the big reunion excitement? Because the graduates remember School 49, no longer existent, as the place that gave them a good start in life.

School 49, otherwise known as the Robert E. Lee Accelerate Junior High School, was unique in Baltimore's public school system. Its students came there strictly by invitation from all parts of the city. Admission requirements were a high IQ, and an excellent achievement record. 

It was a no-frills school. No sports, no swimming pool, no proper gym, even. The building itself had been condemned. It's so-called cafeteria was an area in the basement with asbestos-covered steam pipes above the tables. When fire drills were held, classes exited the building by circuitous routes via classrooms and fire-escapes.

There was no automatic bell system. After fire drills, classes were summoned back by an all-clear buzzer on the vice principal's desk - or by a large dinner bell that she vigorously swung by hand when the buzzer didn't work.

There were no lockers, students and teachers kept their coats, galoshes and other essentials in a cloakroom. Yet there were no thefts, no truancy, no drugs, no handguns. What School 49 did have was spirit. Motivation. The kids were there to learn, the teachers there to teach. And they all just loved it.

Between 1909 and the late 1950's, more than 21,000 young people took the accelerated program at School 49. Forty-niners have been outstanding in law, medicine and the creative and performing arts. Among those of an earlier generation were Chief Judge Emory H. Niles, of the Supreme Bench; Dr. J. Whitridge Williams; Gary Morfit, who became fondly known to millions as the radio and television celebrity, Garry Moore. 

Among today's notables who went to School 49, are Maryland's Attorney General, Stephen H. Sachs, candidate for governor; David Harfeld, now a federal judge in Washington, DC; many prominent doctors both male and female, including the nationally known Dr. Helen Harrison, and the controversial author, Dr. Edgar Berman. 

In the liberal arts, School 49 alumni include Dr. George Fuld, MIT mathematician; and Dr. Eric Goldman, Princeton historian. In the performing arts, let's cite the noted Broadway actress, Mildred Dunnock and Larry Adler, the world-famous concert-stage harmonica performer, and in the graphic arts, Bennard Perlman, artist and art historian.

That's just a random sampling. A comprehensive list would include an admiral, and even (astounding!) one big-league baseball figure. In the just plain money-making category, Forty-niners are there in goodly numbers, most notably, the late philanthropist Joseph Meyerhoff, for whom the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's hall is named.

School 49's story is worth telling, and its alumni and teachers are in the process of putting together a book of reminiscences. My wife, Margery Harriss, who as a young woman, taught English there during and after WWII, is among those involved in compiling this book, so I've taken some notes from her.

"Besides being in a dilapidated, actually condemned building," she says, "School 49 had very limited supplies. Textbooks were 20 years old and falling apart. Sometimes, a book would be so tattered, the student using would have to carry it to and from school in a brown paper bag."

Yet, students and teachers made do, sometimes grumbling but usually cheerful. 

She recalls the children of the cultured but destitute WWII refugees from Europe as having been the most strongly motivated - here was this wonderful school with the high European standards, and it was free!
Now let's think back. School 49 was always an anomaly, an advanced idea in a contradictory setting. Even its naming (although General Lee had, after the Confederacy's defeat, became an educator) reflected a socio-historical echo, not compatible with modern democracy. This location was in a once-fashionable neighborhood. (Actually, School 49's building, though woefully inadequate, was not bad looking outside, with its Romanesque façade of red brick and white terracotta trim, and its present owner, the prestigious Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, is nicely restoring it.)

The building was that of the old Marston Private prep school for boys, and directly across the street had been the Bryn Mawr private prep school for girls. In effect, School 49 was the public prep school for boys and girls - Spartan as to physical plant and equipment, but uncompromisingly aristocratic as to academic standards. 

In today's open society, such a public school would not be tolerated; it was elitist and that's an angry put-down word now. By the late 1950's, School 49 had ceased to be an accelerate junior high school, eventually becoming a school for pregnant teen-agers, sometimes coarsely referred to as "the watermelon farm."

An attempt to recreate School 49 would be inadvisable, and probably impossible. But School 49 worked. No students left there without knowing how to read and write acceptable and to cope with ordinary arithmetic. Most went on to high school, college and a notably worthwhile life.

January 19, 1986

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

110 Years Ago, This Month

One hundred and ten years ago, we were just a hole in the ground waiting to be filled. 

You can see the School #49 building, which we now own, just to the south (right). And there's a residence, just to the north (left). 
Two month's later, significant progress had been made, and by May of 1909, the building had been completed. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Ellicott & Emmart, Architects

There is an image of the 1909 MedChi building that is a watercolor rendering of the building, which looks to have been painted around the time of its construction. 
The building was designed by the firm of Ellicott & Emmart, comprised of William M. Ellicott, Jr. and William Wirt Emmart. They designed some other buildings in Baltimore, both together as a firm, as well as on their own. 

Among the more notable were St. David's Church in Roland Park, 

some of the buildings at Charlestown Retirement Home in Catonsville, 

 the Thomas Building in downtown Baltimore,
and the Georgian Revival Patrick Henry School #37 in East Baltimore. 

Of these buildings, I think that School #37 has the most similarities to the Faculty Building. 

Ellicott and Emmart also designed houses in Roland Park and Guilford, including this beautiful one on Bishop's Road. It was owned for years by Milton Eisenhower, the brother of President Dwight Eisenhower.

William Wirt Emmart (1869–1949) came by architecture naturally: his grandfather was an architect. Emmart attended Baltimore City College, and then the Maryland Institute College of Art for architecture. He is described in a family history as being "devoted to the improvement and ornamentation of Baltimore."

In the early part of the 1900's, Baltimore City's public schools embarked on a program to build a number of new schools, specifically using local architects. Ellicott and Emmart were among those on the list and Emmart was in a perfect position to improve Baltimore. 

Interestingly, early in his career, Emmart worked with Joseph Sperry who designed MedChi's "new" building, the former School #49.

William B. Ellicott was born in 1853 in Philadelphia, and was educated at the Penn Charter School and Haverford College. After a course of architectural study at the University of Pennsylvania, he continued his training in Paris at the Atlier Pascal.

Mr. Ellicott began professional practice in Portland, Oregon, in 1889, and for five years maintained an office under the firm name of Ellicott & Lazarus. Moving to Baltimore soon after the turn of the century he joined William W. Emmart (d. 1949) in partnership and continued that association until his retirement.

In his work in Baltimore, Ellicott established a reputation as a designer of fine suburban homes, also was the architect of a number of public and business structures, among which were St. David's Protestant Episcopal Church and the Colonial Trust Company Building.

Subsequent to his retirement to private life at the age of sixty-four he devoted much of his time to civic and public activities. An exponent of the so-called "Maryland State Plan" Mr. Ellicott worked actively for its establishment for a number of years, and is credited as being largely responsible for the creation by the U. S. Congress in 1926 of the National Park Capitol and Planning Commission. He also organized the first Art Exhibition in Baltimore, and aided in establishing a Museum of Art in the city, of which he afterwards served as Trustee for several years.

We are so proud of our beautiful building which will celebrate 110 years, next May.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Early Medicine in Maryland, by Thomas S. Cullen, MD

I had borrowed the monograph, "Early Medicine in Maryland," by Thomas S. Cullen, M.D. from one of our members a while ago, and before I returned it, I decided to scan it to share with you, dear reader. 

I've written about Dr. Cullen before, and you might want to click and read a bit about him. He was quite a prolific writer (and reader) and the small history of early medicine here in Maryland was one of the booklets he published. 
Here is his book, in its entirety. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Happy Birthday, Sir William!

July 12, 2018 marks the 169th birthday of Sir William Osler, MD. He was born in rural Bond Head, Ontario, Canada where his father was a minister with a small parish. 

From the time he was a child, Osler was always noted as having eyes like "little-burnt-holes-in-a-blanket" and in almost every single image of him, you find that this is true. Osler's dark eyes, along with his walrus mustache, were emblematic of his look, from his college portraits until the day he died. 

Osler went from school in Weston just outside of Toronto, to Montreal, to Philadelphia, on to Baltimore and finally to Oxford, England. 

In Baltimore, he lived at No. 1 West Franklin Street,
and eventually bought the adjacent house so that his students and others would have a place to gather. He called the residents of that house, "Latch-Keyers" and it was a point of pride to have a key to the house. 

At the greatly advanced age of 40, Osler married for the first time. His wife moved to Baltimore from Philadelphia where she was the widow of a prominent physician, and friend of Osler's. 

Throughout his life, he accumulated friends and in England, he welcomed many of them to his house in Oxford which was nicknamed "Open Arms." 

Please join us in sending birthday wishes to MedChi friend and patron, Sir William Osler. We salute you!