In 1893, the Old Medical School Building opened its doors as the Louisville Medical College at the corner of West Chestnut and First Street. Well known Louisville architects at the turn of the century, Charles Julian Clarke and Arthur Loomis of the firm Clarke and Loomis, designed the building in their signature Richardsonian Romanesque style. The building stands as a testament to its time.
The “Old Medical College” began as a labor of love and still goes on in the same fashion. The building has gone through many changes since its inception. In 1901 the Medical Department at the University of Louisville was in dire financial straits and only the merging of all four medical colleges in town would alleviate the problem. As a result, the four other medical colleges in Louisville merged and became under the care of University of Louisville. With the onset of World War I, a shortage of students and faculty became apparent, until the economic growth of the 1920’s.
In 1922-1923, the Louisville Medical College officially changed its name from the Medical Department of the University of Louisville to the University of Louisville School of Medicine, as it is known today.
Ten years later the Great Depression struck the country and in January 1937 floods infiltrated the Ohio River Valley. On January 22 downtown University of Louisville classes were dismissed but before the students left the building at First and Chestnut, they carried library books, journals and pictures that were being stored in the basement to the first floor to be saved.
With the emergence of World War II, a contract was drawn between the US Government and the University of Louisville to prepare students for the Armed Forces. New curriculum was created that changed both the content and length of courses to accommodate the direction of military medicine. This was enacted with the knowledge that when the war was over students would return to the more accepted curriculum.
When the war ended instead of the predicted decrease interest in medicine there was an increase. With growing attendance and expansion of medicine The University of Louisville School of Medicine was rapidly becoming too large for its current home. In 1965 the school began moving out into newer facilities and soon the building became known as the ‘Old Medical School’.
For nearly ten years the building remained vacant and abandoned. May 20, 1977 marked the day on which the Greater Louisville Medical Society Foundation purchased the property. This bold move resulted from the leadership of these individuals:
- Robert Howell, MD – GLMS President
- Sam Overstreet, MD – Founder and President of the Medical Foundation of GLMS
- Harry Lehman – Foundation Administrator of GLMS
- Richard Wolf, MD – Construction Manager and Treasurer of the OMS (Old Medical School) Project
In 2017, following renovation and decades of service, the Old Medical School Building was sold to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana – Louisville. GLMS and the GLMS Foundation moved to their new home at 328 East Main Street in Downtown Louisville.