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Records of the Building Fund Committee and Building Committee


Held at: Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia [Contact Us]19 S. 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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There have several iterations of a Building Fund Committee during the College's history. The first was formed in 1849 to "ascertain and report to the College the probable cost of a lot and the sum necessary to erect thereon a building suitable for the accommodation of the College, and to suggest a plan for raising the funds estimated to be requisite for the execution of the project." In 1850, a committee was formed to invite and receive contributions from the Fellows. On January 15, 1850, George Fox, J. Rodman Paul, and George Bacon Wood were elected Trustees of the Building Fund and empowered to receive and invest all funds for purchase and construction. A related body, the Committee of Collections for the Trust Fund, was also formed at this time.

On March 2, 1859, a committee was appointed to select and purchase a site suitable for the erection of a hall. This committee, sometimes referred to as the "Committee of Seven", first approached the Fellows, raising some $3000, then turned to members of the Philadelphia County Medical Society and local apothecaries, and finally, to other individuals. The committee made its final report on 5 December 1860 and was released. On December 5, 1860, a committee was appointed to procure plans and estimates for a hall. The new hall of the College of Physicians was completed and occupied in March 1863. The trust was then annulled, and all proceeds from the sale of its securities were transferred to the College's Building Committee. The Trustees of the Building Fund were discharged by the College at its meeting on 4 March 1863.

From the time of its organization, 1787, the College held its meetings in the hall of the University of Pennsylvania, then on the west side of Fourth Street, south of Arch Street, until December, 1792, when an apartment in the hall of the American Philosophical Society, No. 104 South Fifth Street, was leased at a rent of twenty dollars a year, which was afterwards increased. The College continued to be a tenant of the American Philosophical Society till August, 1845. Then more convenient accommodation was obtained on the third floor of the building of the Mercantile Library Company at the southeast corner of Fifth and Library streets. The College resolved to move thence June 7, 1854; and held its first meeting July 4, in the Pennsylvania Hospital building, No. 820 Spruce Street, now occupied by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and continued there until March, 1863, when it moved into its fifth home on the northeast corner of Thirteenth and Locust Streets.

However, about ten years after settling in premises of its own, the College perceived that the rate of increase of the library would render the available room in the building inadequate for its accommodation in the course of a few years. In January 1875, the College appointed Dr. George Fox as chairman of a committee "to devise and report upon a plan for the earliest practicable collection of a building fund, and recommend such measures as may be thought desirable for the improvement of the College property." The committee reported, March 3, 1875, in favor of forming a building fund by appropriating to it all entrance fees and any annual surplus that the College can afford, and also by the encouragement of subscriptions, donations, and legacies. The report was adopted April 7, 1875. It seems that the College reached its fundraising goals by 1887, and completed a third-story addition to building in November 1886.

The Committee was likely re-established in the early 1900s when the College began exploring the idea of constructing a new, larger building. The current home of the College was completed in 1909, and the Committee may have been disbanded soon after.


Ruschenberger, W. S. W. "A Memory of Dr. George Fox..." Transactions and Studies of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, series 3, volume 7 (1884-1885): xxxxviiii-lxix.

DaCosta, J. M. "Address delivered at the close of his first term of office." Transactions and Studies of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, series 3, volume 8 (1885-1886): lv-lx.

Ruschenberger, W. S. W. "An account of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia: The Building Fund." Transactions and Studies of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, series 3, volume 9 (1886-1887): clvxxxvi-cxciii.

The Building Committee of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia was appointed on 6 April 1904, shortly after the Fellows elected to construct a new College building on 22nd and Ludlow Streets in Philadelphia. William W. Keen suggested that a committee, consisting of the President of the College and five Fellows appointed by him, should be formed to supervise the building's plan and construction. According to Keen's resolution, it would be the responsibility of the Building Committee to "select an architect [and] procure plans and specifications and bids from several responsible builders." At the close of the meeting, President Arthur V. Meigs chose James Tyson, William Thomson, James C. Wilson, William J. Taylor, and George McClellan to serve on the Building Committee.

The first official meeting of the Building Committee was held on 18 April 1904. An additional member, John K. Mitchell, was appointed by the President, and William J. Taylor was elected secretary. Over the next ten years of the committee's existence, Fellows such as G. E. De Schweinitz, Richard H. Harte, and Frederick P. Henry would serve on this committee.

The Building Committee's first major decision was to hire Cope and Stewardson, a Philadelphia architectural firm, to design the College building. After selecting an architect, the committee discussed the floorplan of the building, selected building materials, and arranged for the installation of telephone and electric service. The furnishings for the College were selected by a Subcommittee on Furniture, consisting of William J. Taylor, Richard H. Harte, and John K. Mitchell. The Building Committee also monitored expenses and made regular progress reports to the Fellows at College meetings.

The Building Committee continued to meet through 1914, when the furnishing and construction of the College building on 22nd Street was completed.

Several short-term committees were established previously, while the decision was made to construct a new building and purchase a lot at 22nd Street. These committees included the Committee on Needs of College Building and Future Needs of the College (1901), the Committee on "Advisability of Removal or Non-Removal of the College" (1904), and the Committee on Plans for a New College Building (1904).

Before the College moved to 22nd Street, it was located in a building on the northeast corner of 13th and Locust Streets. Previously, the College had rented the "Picture House" of the Pennsylvania Hospital, but as the Library grew, and with Thomas Mütter's donation, more space was needed. In December 1861, the Fellows voted to invite proposals for a new hall. Short-term committees established for this purpose included the Committee on Purchasing a Lot for the Purposes of the College, and the Committee on Plans and Estimates of a New Building.

As of 2019, the College does not have a Building Committee, but the Facilities and Real Estate Committee is active.

This small collection consists of the records of the Building Fund Committee, 1883 through 1911, and an 1888 report of the Building Committee. Included in the records of the Building Fund Committee are account and subscription books (1884-1886 and 1903 to 1910), some correspondence regarding contributions to the building fund (1884-1886), and financial reports for the years 1903 to 1911.

This box of materials was discovered during the survey of Fall 2015. While the box contained inventories for two separate collections, many of the items listed had been separated and processed in three discrete collections: CPP 10/017-01; CPP 10/018-01; and CPP 10/019-01. The reason for this is unknown.

Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Finding Aid Author
Chrissie Perella
Finding Aid Date
October 2019

Collection Inventory

Report, 1883.
Box 1 Folder 1
Subscription book, circa 1884.
Box 1 Folder 2
Correspondence, 1884-1886.
Box 1 Folder 3
Subscription book, 1903-1908.
Box 1 Folder 4
Account book, 1903-1910.
Box 1 Folder 5
Financial reports, 1903-1911.
Box 1 Folder 7
Financial reports, 1905-1907.
Box 1 Folder 6
Series II. Building Committee report, 1888.
Box 1 Folder 8

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