4. Anatomical Theater

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Anatomical theater shortly before it was demolished in 1939
Anatomical theater shortly before it was demolished in 1939

Following a complaint from Pavilion X resident and professor of medicine Robley Dunglison that his front room was an "unacceptable venue" for dissecting cadavers, Jefferson designed a new building in 1824 (featuring a tiered amphitheater for observing dissections) that stood for a period of time in front of where Alderman Library is today. A student dissection lab was added later. Nineteenth century medical faculty and students commonly stole the corpses of recently buried African Americans from nearby cemeteries for use in their classrooms. By the late 1840s, the University was competing for cadavers with two other medical schools in the state. Professional grave robbers known as "Resurrectionists" were hired in Richmond, Alexandria, and Norfolk. These men primarily targeted African American burial sites to meet the University's demand for twenty-five or more cadavers per session. An enslaved man named Lewis was hired by the University from carpenter George Spooner specifically to clean up after the cadaver experiments. Because of these duties, the University community referred to him as "Anatomical Lewis." During his time at UVA, Lewis lived in several locations including behind Pavilion VII. It is unknown whether Lewis left by death or by sale, but by 1860, Lewis no longer appears in University records.

Historic location & marker

Historic location only | Historic marker