History

On the Origin of the Institute of Pathology of UHCMC

Jeannie June Sky St.Marie
July 17, 2007

In the original plans for the construction of a Medical Center in Cleveland, representing the joint interests of Western Reserve University and the University Hospitals of Cleveland, the Department of Pathology was to have had its teaching quarters in the School of Medicine and its laboratories in the various hospitals. The Department was actually in operation in the School of Medicine facility in 1925 (see Methods and Problems of Medical Education, 3rd series, New York, 1925) with Dr. Howard T. Karsner as its head. However, before the programs for the hospital buildings had become too far advanced to permit alteration, it became apparent that the situation was ideal for the development of an institute of pathology. Although such institutes had been successful abroad, only a few universities in the United States had adopted them.

The Planning Committee of the University Hospitals and the officers of Western Reserve University agreed that the most suitable site for an institute of pathology would be one contiguous to the hospitals of the Medical Center and as near as possible to the School of Medicine. Therefore it was decided to erect the building on the south flank of the plaza in front of the new Lakeside Hospital, as a companion architecturally to the Hanna House for private patients situated on the north flank of the plaza. This would also bring the Institute into close proximity to the Babies and Children's Hospital.

In the autumn of 1926 the General Education Board appropriated the sum of $750,000 for the construction of an Institute of Pathology at Western Reserve University. After much study of the situation, it was decided that the building would house all work in pathology of the University and of University Hospitals, including the Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Babies and Children's Hospital, Lakeside Hospital, Maternity Hospital and the Hanna Pavilion. It was further decided that the Institute would serve as a central laboratory for the more intricate but routine tests that deal with biochemistry, immunology and bacteriology. After careful examination of similar buildings on this continent and in Europe spearheaded by Dr. Karsner, a plan was drawn by architect Abram Garfield of Cleveland to begin work. The Crowell and Little Construction Company of Cleveland broke ground February 1928 and in the following year The Institute of Pathology was dedicated on October 7, 1929. Full activities of all the divisions housed therein were commenced at the time of occupation of the new Lakeside Hospital early in February of 1931 (see Methods and Problems of Medical Education, 20th series, 1932).

Institute Before Andrews Addition

After careful deliberation, it was determined that the Institute should serve, in addition to the purposes of pathology, as a central laboratory for the University Hospitals, in order that the common laboratory work of the several hospitals could be concentrated, correlated and economically performed. It was thought also that the training of young men and women for careers in laboratory work, either in university or general hospital fields, would be greatly enhanced by the broad type of laboratory work thus established.

The building is of buff brick and Indiana limestone. It consists of subbasement, basement, five floors, and a penthouse that contains the elevator machinery, fans and duct outlets. It is an oblong building, 160 x 60 feet, with steel framework, supported on 40 steel columns. The corridors are situated eccentrically so that the rooms to the north are 24 feet deep and those to the south 20 feet deep. The height of the first floor is 13 feet 6 inches clear. The other floors are 11 feet 6 inches, except the sub-basement that is 9 feet and the fifth floor 10 feet. It was designed to have more than 100 rooms in the building. There are two stairways and one super-collective drive elevator. The floors are made of 7 inches of reinforced concrete, which provides a building practically free from vibration and from noise transmitted from one floor to another. In special parts of the building there is flooring of wood, linoleum, terrazzo and mastic brick. The entire floor space of the building is 61,815 square feet and the volume 784,000 cubic feet. It was designed to have 369 windows, which in typical units extend from bench level to the ceiling.

Bas-reliefs at the right of the doorway, as one faces it, represent Morgagni, Virchow, Rokitansky and Pasteur. At the left of the door are Hunter, Bichat, Cohnheim and Welch. Six of the eight are representative of their various countries, whereas Cohnheim represents experimental pathology and Pasteur represents bacteriology and immunology. The bronze doors utilize the zodiacal signs of Libra and Cancer, the pinecone, the medieval urine glass and medieval lancets. The frieze above the door alternates the pinecone and the cock. The upper grille utilizes the same material as the doors. The central figure is the American caduceus under which is an open book with the legend from Claude Bernard, "Observation shows and experiment teaches."

Panels under the windows are motifs from the shields of the medieval guilds. That with the radiant head of Apollo is from the Physicians of London; that with the medieval lancets is from the Barber Surgeons of London; that with the thistle is from the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh; that with the effigy of St. Comus is from the Barber Surgeons of Brussels; that with the various utensils is from the Apothecaries of Nuremberg. Rather that select any part of the Della Robbia escutcheon of the Painters and Physicians of Florence, it was decided to use the shield of the Medici of the corresponding period. These six designs are repeated under the windows.

The frieze around the entrance hall shows the snakes of the caduceus uncoiled and entwined into pine trees with large cones. The chandeliers utilize the same material as used on the bronze doors and serpents support each of the individual lamps. The grilles utilize the Egyptian key of knowledge and the pomegranate.

The symbolic decorations were made possible with the aid of Lieut. Col. Fielding H. Garrison of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Mr. A H. Slade of the Library of Congress and the architects. The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia also rendered Service. Major George R. Callender of the Army Medical Museum provided most of the photographs, from which Mr. Halls of the W.B. McAllister Company made the bas-reliefs. That of Dr. Welch was made from photographs obtained from Johns Hopkins University and by personal study of Mr. Halls.