Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Old Red: Pioneering Medical Education in Texas

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Old Red: Pioneering Medical Education in Texas

Article excerpt

Old Red: Pioneering Medical Education in Texas. By Fleather Green Wooten. (Denton: Texas State Historical Association, 2012. Pp. vi, 136. Paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-87611-254-0.)

Architectural historians, cultural resource specialists, and preservationists have long said that buildings are more than foundations, walls, and roofs. Building is also a material practice involving sociocultural, political, and economic dynamics as much as raising walls. In addition, no one can fully understand buildings absent the people who use them or the events they survive. Space is not static but is imagined, built, and experienced. Heather Green Wooten, celebrated for her work The Polio Years in Texas: Battling a Terrifying Unknown (College Station, Tex., 2009) and an associate for a Houston-based history consulting firm, provides a biography of "Old Red," the first campus building for the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She discusses the material development and restoration of a building through the myths, stories, and everyday life within its walls.

To tell the material, storied, and practiced spatial life of Old Red and its inhabitants throughout its history, Wooten tours the advancement of medical science and teaching. She places Old Red squarely within the context of medical professionalization in the nineteenth century, which was a famously hard-fought battle that literally left bodies in its wake. Overcoming money issues, the prolific architect Nicholas Joseph Clayton designed Old Red, and it opened in 1891. The beginning chapters of the book, therefore, are context, but what follows is Wooten at her best. The social history of the building comes to life as she explains how Old Red survived turmoil, from catastrophic hurricanes to more funding woes. …

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