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Indiana Medical History Museum

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Old Pathology Building
1898, Adolph Scherrer. 3045 W. Vermont St.
  • (Photograph by Benjamin L. Ross)
  • Detail of laboratory (Photograph by Benjamin L. Ross)
  • Operating theater (Photograph by Benjamin L. Ross)
  • Operating theater (Photograph by Benjamin L. Ross)

Built in 1898 to house the nascent Pathology Department at the Indiana Hospital for the Insane, the Pathology Building is the nation’s oldest surviving facility of its kind. The hospital (later the Central State Hospital) was established in 1848 as Indiana’s first state psychiatric institution and located on 160 acres on the western outskirts of Indianapolis. In 1895, George Edenharter hoped to expand medical research at the hospital and lobbied for funds to construct a hospital pathology laboratory. Edenharter worked with architect Adolph Scherrer (1847–1925) to design a state-of-the-art structure that would house the functions of the new department.

Scherrer designed a two-story brick Romanesque Revival building with limestone lintels and beltcourses and a stone foundation. It contained nineteen rooms to serve the department’s purpose of researching the causes and treatments of disease. The facility included an eight-tiered, 100-plus seat amphitheater, various laboratories, library, photography room, autopsy room, and an anatomical and pathological museum.

In 1968, the hospital planned to demolish the building. To save the structure, a group of doctors opened the Indiana Medical History Museum the following year. It remains open to the public and retains the same layout, decoration, and building equipment.


Bonsett, Charles A., M.D., “Old Pathology Building,” Marion County, Indiana. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, 1969. National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.

“Central State's Medical Staff and the Emergence of Scientific Medicine: 1890-1920.” Indiana Archives and Records Administration. Accessed May 31, 2016.

Writing Credits

Britta Anderson
Benjamin L. Ross

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