McGoogan News

From the archives: 1921 Medical Campus Plan

By John Schleicher

In 1887, John Latenser, Sr. (1858-1936), set up an architectural practice in Omaha.  His practice spanned more than 50 years, with commissions for many of the city’s larger civic and commercial building projects, including the Douglas County Courthouse, Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, Brandeis Department Store, and Central, North and South High Schools.  For several decades Latenser was the primary architect for the University of Nebraska College of Medicine (later UNMC).  Latenser may have envisioned this concept plan (see image) for the medical campus as early as 1915, with this rendering of the plan dated 1921.

Charles Poynter, M.D. (College of Medicine Dean 1930-46) wrote, “The 1911 Legislature provided $100,000 for a college building . . . finished in the fall of 1913, the school was set up in the new building.  In the original campus plan, provision was made for a 500 bed teaching hospital consisting of five units.  In 1915, $l50,000 was appropriated for the first unit.  John Latenser & Sons were engaged to draw the plans and have since been in charge of all campus building.”

In 1919, Irving Cutter, M.D. (College of Medicine Dean 1915-25) wrote, “With the construction of the South Lab Building (Bennett Hall) and the Central Power Plant, the total cost of buildings on the medical campus will exceed a half million dollars.  The South Lab Building . . . in general architecture, is an exact duplicate of the North Lab Building (Poynter Hall).”

Latenser’s campus plan was never completed as envisioned.  Conkling Hall (first permanent College of Nursing building) was completed in 1923 and a second unit of the hospital opened in 1927.  Appropriations for and construction of other buildings in the plan never happened because of the poor farm economy of the 1920s and the great depression of the 1930s.

From the archives: World War I Physician

By John Schleicher

The U. S. entered World War I on April 6, 1917, and fought throughout the remainder of the conflict, until the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Eighty members of the College of Medicine faculty and student body were in military service by March 1918.

University of Nebraska Base Hospital No. 49 was organized in September 1917 and was mobilized in March 1918. After the war, the unit was taken out of service in January 1919, and the members of the unit sailed for the U.S. in April 1919. The unit was then transferred by train in May 1919 to Camp Dodge, Iowa, where it was demobilized on May 7, 1919.

Many College of Medicine alumni also joined Base Hospital No. 49. Among them was Dr. J. C. Waddell (fifth from right in photo), a 1910 graduate who had been practicing in Pawnee City, Nebraska before the war. Born in 1876 in Illinois, Waddell came with his family to Nebraska in 1882, settling on a farm southwest of Pawnee City. He attended rural school until he was 13 years old, and then enrolled in the Pawnee City Academy (high school). He later graduated from Tarkio College in Missouri, and then attended the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

After the war, in 1920, Dr. Waddell joined in practice with another physician in Beatrice, Nebraska. He continued to practice medicine in Beatrice for the next 50 years.