Bricks and Mortar | PCOM Buildings | 125 Years Through 125 Stories
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Bricks and Mortar

Digest Magazine

Illustrated Stories of the Places that Indelibly Marked the College’s History 
125 Years Through 125 Stories

August 1, 2022
Bricks and Mortar text graphicBy Jennifer Schaffer Leone; illustrations by Mike Shisler

Familiar buildings evoke nostalgia. They harbor history and tradition, and they constitute the foundation of our College’s story of change, growth and innovation.

Below you will find original ink and water-colored illustrations—commissioned by Digest Magazine for PCOM’s 125th anniversary. The renderings unveil the College’s past, present and future in a novel way.

Look with new eyes at PCOM’s campus buildings, structures and spaces. Perceive the light and shadow, scale and proportion, the sense of place and the spirit of the historical moments.

The College’s first home, 1899–1900

Stephen Girard Building at 21 South 12th Street, PhiladelphiaThrough the vision of Mason Wiley Pressly, DO, and Oscar John Snyder, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s legacy began. At least a dozen medical schools and hospitals were on the scene in 1899 when the physicians set their sights on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a mecca for medical education. They incorporated the Philadelphia College and Infirmary of Osteopathy (PCIO) in January 1899.

Drs. Pressly and Snyder sought a space for the College’s first home and found it in two rooms of the Stephen Girard Building, a new 13-story office tower located at 21 South 12th Street. Located in the heart of downtown Philadelphia, the building was considered at the time to represent the Beaux-Arts and to be among the most elegant office structures in the nation. Built in 1896, the Girard Building and the entire city block (bordered by Market, Chestnut, 11th and 12th Streets) was once entirely owned by Stephen Girard, a wealthy Philadelphia merchant, banker and philanthropist. He purchased the land from John Dunlap, an Irish printer known for publishing the first copies of the Declaration of Independence.

Watch the Reel for More History

The College’s second home, 1900–1903

Witherspoon Building at Walnut, Juniper and Sansom Streets, PhiladelphiaBy the end of the first year, the College outgrew its space in the Stephen Girard Building. The academic year beginning February 1, 1900, commenced in PCIO’s second downtown location: the newly built Witherspoon Building at Juniper and Walnut Streets. For three years, PCIO occupied the entire south side of the sixth floor with classrooms, clinical facilities and laboratories.

The 11-story Witherspoon Building was designed by architect Joseph M. Huston and constructed by William Steele and Son, Carpenters and Builders. It was originally built (1895–1897) for the Presbyterian Church. It is named for John Witherspoon, who served as the first president of Princeton University.

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33rd and Arch Streets, PhiladelphiaAs the number of students and faculty grew, the College moved to larger quarters, establishing a campus at 33rd and Arch Streets. Located in the suburban Powelton Village section of West Philadelphia (across the Schuylkill River from downtown Philadelphia), the academic building was a seven-story Victorian stone mansion with gas lighting and a big wrap-around porch, surrounded by grassy lawns. Didactic classes were held in the mansion’s ornate parlor; the second floor housed osteopathic treatment and operating rooms. Anatomic dissections were consigned to the basement.

During this time [1906], PCIO also opened the Osteopathic Dispensary at 1617 Fairmount Avenue. The three-bed facility directed a clinic for the underprivileged of the community seeking osteopathic treatment.


1715 North Broad Street, PhiladelphiaPCIO migrated to yet another site in 1908 in search of more adequate facilities for the growing classes that were to begin a mandatory four-year, eight-month curriculum. The College rented an Italianate brownstone building in a residential neighborhood. The area was positioned north of the Market Street railroad viaduct and was steeped in Gilded Age grandeur.

The high-rise structure at 1715 North Broad Street comprised two large lecture halls, three classrooms and a gynecological operating room. It had a separate division for the anatomical and other laboratories as well as a gymnasium.

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832 Pine Street, PhiladelphiaAgain seeking more space, the College moved in 1912 to a five-story apartment house in the city’s Colonial neighborhood (Society Hill). Around the corner, at 410 South 9th Street, the first osteopathic hospital to be chartered in Philadelphia was also established. Before and after the turn of the century, several other medical institutions were nearby: Pennsylvania Hospital, the Pennsylvania Dental College and the Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf and Dumb.

The Pine Street building had an interesting use in 1889: a small chapel on the second floor housed a Black Catholic congregation led by Rev. Patrick McDermott, who had taken charge at the request of Mother Katharine Drexel, the Philadelphia philanthropist, nun and later saint (canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000). McDermott’s expanded congregation would become the basis of St. Peter Claver, Philadelphia’s first Black Roman Catholic church, in 1892.

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19th and Spring Garden Streets, PhiladelphiaShortly before the United States entered World War I, PCIO moved into new quarters in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section. A $60,000 fundraising campaign enabled the College to purchase its first buildings, including a hospital. The Reyburn Mansion, located at 19th and Spring Garden Streets, became the cornerstone of the campus. The home had belonged to John Edgar Reyburn, mayor of Philadelphia. With the design services of Philadelphia architects DeArmond, Ashmead & Bickley, the brick and terra-cotta mansion was transformed into classrooms and laboratories.

The College erected a three-story, 52-bed hospital building to the rear of the property in 1918. This was the first osteopathic hospital to be built with funds contributed by the public. It boasted a considerable surgical amphitheater.

In 1919, the College acquired two adjacent townhouses located to the east of the mansion—one became the College annex, Dispensary and Clinic, and the other the Nurses’ Home for the College’s new Training School for Nurses.

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48th and Spruce Streets, PhiladelphiaIn 1927, the 19th and Spring Garden Street buildings were placed on the market, and a search began for a new location that could accommodate the need for enlarged educational and hospital facilities. A public fundraising campaign was launched; various sites in North Philadelphia were explored by the Board before selecting a residential neighborhood in West Philadelphia known as “Garden Court.”

A tract of land was purchased at the northeast corner of 48th and Spruce Streets. Ground was broken in the winter of 1929, and construction by the William Steele Company proceeded at a rapid pace. The 75,000-square-foot building, designed in Collegiate Gothic style by Camden architects Lackey and Hettel, opened for occupancy—almost simultaneously with the Stock Market Crash.

Picturesque and dramatic, the building was magnificent in both mass and composition. It was created of stone and brick with a slate roof and casement windows. The main entrance on Spruce Street was flanked by two towers. It opened into a large lobby that connected the College and hospital units. The basement consisted of 40 treatment booths—an outpatient department for third- and fourth-year students to gain clinical skills (booth doctors). The College unit boasted a 500-seat auditorium, offices, classrooms, laboratories and dissection areas. The hospital portion could accommodate 80 patients. The third floor of the hospital featured a surgical amphitheater that could seat approximately 200, a private operating room and an anesthetizing room.

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City Avenue, Philadelphia - PCOM's current campus locationBoard Chairman Frederic H. Barth initially led PCOM to City Avenue; he had outlined an ambitious plan for a modern academic medical center to include a hospital. In 1957, the College purchased 16 acres of land and the Tudor Revival–style Moss Estate (today, Levin Administration Building) housed on it. The estate was renovated to become an administration building situated at the heart of the new campus.

Construction of the College campus site was phased over several years. Designed by architects Supowitz and Demchick, the 228-bed hospital, Frederic H. Barth Pavilion, was completed and dedicated in 1967. The facility featured a state-of-the-art surgical center with five operating room suites; a 12-bed psychiatric unit; a clinical laboratory; and coronary care, intensive care and cobalt units.

Construction of a six-story combined classroom, laboratory and library structure with sophisticated equipment—Dr. Barth’s noble vision—began in 1970. The campus’s principal building, Evans Hall (pictured above), was named for H. Walter Evans, DO, professor of obstetrics, who organized and chaired the Department of Preventive Medicine and guided the College’s program during the post-war years. The building was billed as “the last word in osteopathic-medical educational facilities.”

In August 1977, PCOM acquired a five-story, 150,000-square-foot office building adjacent to the campus, located at 4190 City Avenue. Erected by a New York City firm, the building was constructed of glass window walls wrapped around steel-reinforced concrete support columns. It was renovated by the College to include classrooms and lecture halls, conference rooms, research and OPP labs, faculty offices, outpatient offices for staff physicians, a bookstore, business offices and a print shop, and a School of Allied Health.

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625 Old Peachtree Road Northwest, Suwanee, GeorgiaPCOM’s reach into the South officially ensued in 2004; an assessment of growing health disparities in the southern United States substantiated an infrastructure for support of new osteopathic and healthcare education programs.

The College chose suburban Atlanta for its first branch campus. The College purchased a 20-acre property in Suwanee, seeking to transform a 150,000-square-foot abandoned clothing warehouse into a modern educational facility. Architectural firm Granary Associates led the master design, utilizing quadrants of the building for the medical school with plans to develop the remainder of the building in phases as academic programs grew.

PCOM Georgia includes two architectural focal points taking advantage of natural light through the use of skylights and partitions. The main building is an expansive one-story brick structure with stone accents; a walking trail wraps around the edifice. Inside there are large and small classrooms, conference and study areas, practice suites, research and multi-use laboratories, a simulation center, a physical therapy education center and an osteopathic care center.

A second 21,000-square-foot building, Northlake, owned originally by an engineering firm, houses College administrative offices and academic departments.

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2050 Tallokas Road, Moultrie, GeorgiaThe establishment of PCOM South Georgia in 2019 marked a new era in healthcare education in Southwest Georgia, making significant inroads in the growing and systemic disparities in rural health care.

Located in the heartland of South Georgia’s thriving agricultural sector, Moultrie, Georgia, is a place known for natural beauty. The facility is built on 30 acres off Tallokas Road, a tract of land donated by Jeter Partners, LLC, a company owned and operated by local real estate developers Jimmy and Dan Jeter. Sasaki Associates, Inc., served as the principal architectural firm, and JCI Contractors of Moultrie served as construction manager.

PCOM South Georgia is thoughtfully built into the rural landscape, among the countless longleaf and loblolly pines. The structure takes advantage of the open site and stretches out in four distinct wings framed around a central common space that functions as the social heart of the building—a place of connection for the College community. On the north side of the building, at the public entry point, the wings of the building frame an entry courtyard that features native wildflowers and plantings.

The 75,000-square-foot facility, which represents an investment of $30 million, includes expansive classrooms, osteopathic manipulative medicine and anatomy labs, a simulation center, exam and practice rooms and an information commons.

About Digest Magazine

Digest, the magazine for alumni and friends of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, is published by the Office of Marketing and Communications. The magazine reports on osteopathic and other professional trends of interest to alumni of the College’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and graduate programs at PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia.