Mark R. Edwards
Davidge Hall, University of Maryland
522, Lombard St., W., Baltimore, Baltimore City
Davidge Hall is located northeast of the intersection of Lombard and Greene Streets, in the center of the University of Maryland medical school buildings. The architect, Robert Cary Long, Sr., used the Pantheon in Rome as a model. The wooden facade, attached to the brick building, is comprised of a portico with a pediment and eight Doric columns, showing little of the usual ornamentation. The exterior does not reveal the round shape of the main interior room, except for a very low dome rising above a high drum. The interior is unique in its superposition of the circular amphitheaters under the wooden dome; the two lecture rooms, each 60' in diameter, were originally known as "Anatomical Hall" and "Chemical Hall." To ensure secrecy during human dissection, the design included a concealed spiral staircase and several dissecting rooms hidden between the sloping seat of the lecture hall and the rectangular outer walls. A section of rectangular rooms provides space for offices and a library between the round lecture hall and the porch.
The structure is the oldest building in the United States which has been used continuously for medical education. It is named for Dr. John Beale Davidge, an anatomist and surgeon who settled in Baltimore in 1796. In 1807 the Maryland state legislature authorized the formation of the College of Medicine of Maryland; Dr. Davidge was its first dean. Davidge conducted anatomy lectures since 1802 first in his home, and then in a small laboratory near Saratoga and Liberty Streets, but this building was destroyed by an angry mob since public opinion at that time violently condemned the dissection of the human body. As a result, practical anatomy was abandoned in the first session of the college, which held its first commencement for five graduates in 1810. The current structure was constructed between 1811 and 1813, and the architect was Robert Cary Long, Sr. (1770-1833), a leading Baltimore-born architect of the 19th century.