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Main and Virginia Streets

photo of building
Current Name:
Former Name: Second Home of the Medical School
Location: Downtown, Lost Buildings

Historical Note:

This building on the corner of Main and Virginia streets, constructed in 1849, was the first building in Buffalo built solely for collegiate education and was served as the second home of the medical school from 1850-1893. Completed in time for the fourth lecture semester of 1849-1850, at a cost of about $15,000, it was known as the most advantageous and ergonomic medical school in the country. There is a glimpse of Sisters of Charity Hospital on the left side of the photograph. Because of its close proximity, Sisters was the first teaching facility by University medical educators; however it was never a University Hospital. Dr. Austin Flint, one of the founding faculty of the University, described it as: "The building situated on the corner of Virginia and Main streets, in a pleasant part of the city, somewhat elevated and sufficiently removed from the center of business to be free from the noise and disturbance of the latter. The style of architecture is Norman, or more properly Romanesque, a style regarded as peculiarly appropriate for buildings designed of similar purposes. The windows are arched; the walls of red sandstone… They present a rough, unhewn surface, the effect of which is to give an appearance of massiveness, age and strength to the building…

The lecture rooms present one peculiar feature which has excited great attention. They are seated with cast-iron chairs, with bottoms firmly screwed on cushioned benches. They are pleasing to the eye and exceedingly comfortable to the sitter, in fact combining all the advantages of a luxurious arm chair. The right arm of each chair is expanded for the purpose of taking notes, and, the whole being painted, it presents quite an elegant appearance. We know of no educational institution in which similar provision for the physical ease of the pupil exists. If the faculties of the mind are inactive, it will not be because the attention is absorbed by uneasy sensations of the body; and while the latter are obviated, the indulgence of postures favorable to indolence and sleep is effectually prevented." Early lectures in this building were very exciting, especially the class on February 18, 1850 when Dr. James Platt White introduced demonstrative or clinical midwifery to the scandalous horror of the city.