In 1875, Rush Medical College moved to Chicago’s West Side and constructed an elaborate, multi-use building at the corner of Wood and Harrison streets. The building’s cornerstone held early issues of the Chicago Medical Journal, various Chicago newspapers, tourists’ guides to Chicago for 1875, a city directory, the valedictory address for 1871, photographs of former faculty, and a copy of the 1837 Rush Medical College charter.
In 1924, the building was demolished to make room for the new Rawson laboratory, and Rush Medical College faculty explored the capsule’s contents. Shown in this photograph are, among others: Edwin L. Holmes; James Spencer Dickerson; O.B. Swanson; Arthur E. Wood, grand master of the Illinois Lodge of Masons; Judge Henry Horner; Dr. C.T. Barnes; Dr. Robert H. Herbst and James H. Harper.
Anne Holovachka, MD, was a resident in neuropsychiatry who graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine. Mary Martin, MD, was a Borland Fellow in pathology who graduated from Northwestern Medical School.
Chartered in 1837, Rush Medical College is the oldest component of Rush University Medical Center, and the Rush Archives staff often answers the same questions related to the history of the school. Here are some brief answers to some of those frequently asked questions about the early years of Rush Medical College. Want more information? Don’t hesitate to contact the Rush archivists, Heather Stecklein and myself. We’re here to help.
Is Rush really older than the city of Chicago?
Technically, yes. Rush Medical College obtained its charter, March 2, 1837. Two days later, the city of Chicago was incorporated. At the time, Chicago had a population barely over 4,000 people. Unfortunately, the Panic of 1837 hit Chicago, and many of the donors who planned to support the school lost their funds. The school did not open until Dec. 4, 1843.
Was Rush Medical College the first medical school in Chicago?
Yes. The predecessor of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, the Medical Department of Lind University, later Chicago Medical College, was founded in 1859, several years after Rush opened.
Why the name “Rush?”
Surgeon Daniel Brainard (1812-1866) obtained the charter for Rush Medical College in 1837. He chose to name the school after a well-known and well-respected American physician, Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) of Pennsylvania. Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and attended the Continental Congress. He was close friends with many of the Founding Fathers. Chicago was a small frontier town, and Brainard was only 24 years old with no reputation of his own. The lofty name of Rush matched the high hopes Brainard had for his endeavor. Continue reading →
The Rush Medical College building was constructed on the northeast corner of Wood and Harrison streets in 1876. It served as a multipurpose facility.
In addition to classrooms and a lecture amphitheater, the structure included a free dispensary with a large waiting room, a drugstore, 10 consultation rooms for private clinics, professors’ offices, a dissecting room, a museum, and a bedroom and parlor for its live-in janitor.
The building stood at this location for nearly 50 years. It was replaced by the Rawson building in 1924.
The Daniel Jones Memorial Building, shown here in 1914, was built in 1888 as part of Presbyterian Hospital. Located at Wood Street and Congress Parkway, it is the oldest building on the Rush campus.
By Heather Stecklein
Want to know more about Rush’s legacy? Contact the Rush Archives!
The Rush Archives is the historical voice of Rush University Medical Center and its predecessor institutions. It is located in the basement level of the Triangle Office Building, and it holds a large collection of papers and artifacts from Rush’s past.
Rush Archivists bring Rush’s history to the public. There are Rush Archives exhibits in four campus locations. Currently, the exhibit, “Battling for the Honor of ‘Old Rush’: Sports at Rush Medical College, 1892-1904” is on display in the Rush Library, on the 5th floor of the Armour Academic Center.
In addition, an exhibit of materials drawn by Steven Economou, M.D., is on display just outside of Room 500 in the Professional Building. The hallway outside of the Archives in the basement level of the Triangle Office Building includes an exhibit of postcards from Rush’s past, a selection of materials from medical advertisements, and a hallway of photographs featuring scenes from Rush’s past.
Leaders of the 1900 Rush Medical College football team. Most material in "Battling for the Honor of Old Rush" was donated by Mary Harding, whose grandfather, John E. Schwendener, is on the left.
The Archives has digitized a portion of its collection. If you would like to see a selection of Rush documents for yourself, you can explore the Archives’ growing digital library on the Rush Archives Web site.
The Archives is open to researchers, by appointment, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Archivists Heather Stecklein and Nathalie Wheaton can answer questions about events and individuals associated with this institution since Rush Medical College was chartered in 1837. You can contact the Archives at Rush_Archives@rush.edu or at (312) 942-7214.
Heather Stecklein is an archivist with Rush University Medical Center.
Each month, the Rush Archives selects a photo from its collection offering a glimpse of Rush University Medical Center‘s history, which dates back to 1837.
Here’s this month’s official photo, which dates back to 1983 and shows Rush employees assembling Thanksgiving food baskets for needy residents of nearby Pilsen.
Rush Employee Activities Committee, 1983. The woman on the far right is Carol Zigman of Community Relations. If you can help identify the other people in the photo, please contact the Rush Archives or leave a comment here.