Anatomical Theatre Render Gallery

The Anatomical Theatre was designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1825 in response to the high enrollment of students in the school of medicine, and the concerns of Dr. Robley Dunglison (the University's first professor of medicine) that Pavilion X would be unsuitable for the dissection of cadavers.  The theatre, located along what is now McCormick Road, was completed in late 1827 or early 1828, after Jefferson's death.  The building originally had a flat ridge-and-furrow roof as seen elsewhere in the original Academical Village (with the addition of a skylight), but was replaced with a hipped roof topped by a cupola circa 1837. A central skylight would have been a necessary feature for a pre-electricity operating theatre. The building also contained the medical museum on the ground floor, a charnel, a dispensary for seeing patients, an apartment for the demonstrator of anatomy, and possibly other spaces- the interior configuration of the building is not described in detail in early records, although they do mention the moving of interior walls and reassignment of spaces.

In 1886, the Anatomical Theatre was partially destroyed by a fire and rendered unusable, but was restored by 1888.  While the exterior brick walls survived the fire largely intact, changes were made to the original design- a door and some windows were bricked over, and the cupola and Chinese railing were omitted due to cost.  In 1920, Fiske Kimball, head of the Department of Art and Architecture at the University of Virginia, designed a portico to be added to the front of the Anatomical Theatre.  In 1924, the building was deemed unsafe for students, and the medical school moved to Hotel B (Washington Hall).  In 1925, a committee found the Anatomical Theatre to be salvageable, and it was remodeled for the School of Rural Social Economics.  With the construction of Alderman Library completed in 1938, the Anatomical Theatre was demolished in 1939 and its bricks salvaged and reused to make repairs to the serpentine walls and other original Jeffersonian buildings.

The Anatomical Theatre is the only Jefferson-designed building on Grounds to be torn down.

See also: Anatomical Theatre Animation and Anatomical Theatre Photograph Gallery

Further Reading:
JUEL Essay The Anatomical Theatre
Health Sciences Library's Online Exhibit Anatomical Theatre at the University