Medical College of Richmond (now Egyptian Building, Medical College of Virginia)

Thomas Somerville Stewart

This Egyptian Revival building was once the Medical College of Richmond; then it was called the Egyptian Building as part of the Medical College of Virginia. It is now part of Virginia Commonwealth University, an institution located in downtown Richmond.
While this style was never as popular as Greek Revival or Gothic Revival, it was seen to have some appropriateness for institutions of higher learning. Many believed that Egyptians had invented philosophy, medicine and other forms of knowledge. Imhotep, for example, was thought to have invented architecture and practiced medicine. Thus, this style seemed especially apt for this medical college (as it is not--to my way of thinking--for Strickland's First Presbyterian Church in Nashville.)
The battered walls of the structure seem like the pylons of ancient Egyptian temples, See, for example, the Temple of Horus at Edfu. This effect is emphasized by the relatively minimal windows (in a five-story building).

Views of the entrance and side

Other aspects of the Egyptian style include the open lotus bud capitals, common in Egyptian temples, the reliefs depicting the solar disk with the cobra, and the cavetto cornice.
The structure is surrounded by a cast-iron fence. The posts are mummies--or herms, as one source calls them (Brownell 270) and intermittent obelisks.

Work Cited: Charles E. Brownell et al. The Making of Virginia Architecture. Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1992.

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© 2002 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

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