Building Medicine at the University of Michigan
Scott Hanley and Merle Rosenzweig
Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan
Psychopathic Hospital: In 1906, Michigan pioneered an ar- Hospital Allopathic
rangement whereby the state supported a psychiatric hospital that was
managed and staffed by the University. The Psychopathic Hospital Hospital
Catherine Street Hospitals: The University Hospital moved from North University Street to this site in 1891 and the was to be a laboratory developing expertise for the other state asy-
Homeopathic Hospital followed a year later. This marked the first move from Central Campus and the beginning of the lums, and few other medical students had such an opportunity to ob-
Medical Campus. serve psychiatric patients. It closed in 1937, when the UM-owned Neu-
ropsychiatric Institute was added to the hospital. At the time this photo
Eventually the site included special wards for surgery, obstetrics, ophthalmology and otolaryngology, dermatology, the was taken, the building was used as an interns’ residence.
psychopathic hospital, and a contagious disease ward. By this time, clinical teaching was the established model at
UM, and while they were reported to be poorly equipped with laboratories and classrooms, these hospital represented “Old Main”
a major upgrade over the Pavilion Hospital for both students and patients. The rule allowing the hospitals to accept
only indigent patients also proved too limiting, and was eventually dropped. The hospital moved to the Old Main site in
1925, but the buildings were repurposed and not finally removed until the 1960’s.
Bentley Historical Library photo BL001742
University Hospital (“Old Main”): Built in 1925 across from the Observatory, the new University Hospital was an enor-
mous, and exceedingly modern structure. With over 700 beds, there were finally enough patients for all of the medical stu-
dents, and an extensive system of wiring allowed EKG readings to be taken at each bed and recorded in a central location.
The photo seen here shows the hospital as it appeared before two additional stories were added in 1931. Behind the main
structure, the surgical wing and the Neuropsychiatric wing were added in 1939, each connecting to the main structure.
As modern as it was, even the Old Main Hospital could not keep up with the rapid advances in medicine. New equipment
was too heavy for the upper floors and had to be confined to the basement, and there were too few private rooms. The new
hospital, along with the Taubman Health Care Center, opened in 1986 and Old Main was demolished in 1989. The Cardio-
vascular Center has recently been constructed on the same site.
Bentley Historical Library photo BL000060
Homeopathic Medical Building
Laboratory Original Medical Building
Homeopathic Hospital: The Homeopathic Medical College was established in 1875,
after decades of resistance from the Regents and “regular medicine” practitioners. The
Homeopathic Hospital occupied this building until 1892, when it moved to Catherine Street
with the University Hospital. In 1900, it moved again, to present-day North Hall. Anatomical
Operating parallel medical programs was always problematic, with considerable overlap in
foundational instruction, and the two programs were merged in 1922. Only two homeo-
pathic faculty were retained, however, marking the effective end of homeopathy at the Uni- Cardiovascular Center: The newest addition to the University of Michigan medi-
versity of Michigan. cal campus, the Cardiovascular Center stands on the site of the Old Main Univer-
Bentley Historical Library photo BL001734 Bentley Historical Library photo BL00000060
University (“Pavilion”) Hospital: This former professor’s house was
converted to a hospital in 1869, and the two parallel wings seen here
were added in 1877. At the time, the wings were designed to maxi-
mize the flow of fresh air, which was considered more essential than
containing infection. The plan to fight infection consisted of burning
down the wooden structure, which was never viewed as a permanent East Medical Building: Built in 1925 opposite the West Medical Building, this
hospital anyway. building housed the anatomy, physiology, and bacteriology departments. Labora-
tory space was much more plentiful than it had ever been in the original Medical
Despite its shortcomings, the University Hospital set the University of Building.
Michigan apart from other medical colleges, none of whom owned
Both the East and West Medical Buildings were gradually e Building. vacated
their own hospital. Instead of contenting themselves with watching
when Medical Science I & II were built on Catherine Street (1958-1969), as the
over another doctor’s shoulder, UM medical students were gaining
Anatomical Laboratory: This building stood on the site of West Hall from 1879 Central Campus lacked clinical facilities. This allowed the final consolidation of
hands-on clinical experience.
to 1904, freeing up space in the Medical Building for histology and physiology Original Medical Building: Built in 1850, this three-story building dominated East University Street and saw the beginning the Medical School on the medical campus. The West Medical Building is now the
Chemical Laboratory – built in 1856, this may have been the first building in the country Dana Building; the East Medical Building is now the CC Little Science Building.
labs. It was claimed to be the first laboratory in the country dedicated exclusively of the Medical School. The curriculum then consisted of pharmacy and materia medica, physiology, pathology, obstetrics
Bentley Historical Library photo BL000005 devoted to laboratory instruction in chemistry. Most of the students using the lab were in the
to anatomical instruction. Cadavers were often hard to obtain by reputable and diseases of women and children, and anatomy. By 1864, enrollment had quadrupled and an addition was built onto the Bentley Historical Library photo BL004101
Medical School and the School of Pharmacy was developed here. After 1908,it became the
means, but an 1875 state law allowed the use of unclaimed bodies from state in- back of the building; the 525 medical students in 1867 were nearly half of the university’s enrollment.
Economics Building and stood near the Diag until it was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve
in 1981. stitutions. Like other fields in the late 1800’s, medicine was growing more professionalized. Instead of apprenticing to a private physi-
UM became the first medical school to admit women students in 1870, with sepa- cian, a young doctor now acquired formal training in a university program. Frequently educated in Germany, UM’s faculty
Sources: Bentley Historical Library photo BL004180 helped transform medical education in the United States by linking medical practice to scientific research and laboratory
Davenport, Horace W. Fifty Years of Medicine at The University of Michigan, 1891-1941. The University of Michigan Medical School, rate classes for men and women. Lecture classes were desegregated in 1881,
1986. but the delicate subject of anatomy remained segregated until 1908. Women had work. With barely enough space already to provide lecture classes, the Medical Building was augmented by the nearby
Davenport, Horace W. Not Just Any Medical School: The Science, Practice, and Teaching of Medicine at the University of Michigan,
their own dissection lab on the ground floor; the upstairs lab, with its excellent sky- Anatomical Laboratory (1879) and West Medical Building (1903). Badly damaged by fire, the structure was removed in
1850-1941. The University of Michigan Press, 1999.
Howell, Joel D., ed. Medical Lives & Scientific Medicine at Michigan, 1891-1969. The University of Michigan Press, 1993. lights, was reserved for the male students. 1914.
Shaw, Wilfred B., ed. The University of Michigan, an Encyclopedic Survey. The University of Michigan Press, 1942-
Bentley Historical Library photo BL004781
Historic photos courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library
Building locations: Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps; “Mort’s Map” (http://umhistory.dc.umich.edu/mort/) Bentley Historical Library photo BL001793
Map images via Bing Maps