COURTESY GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES Georgetown University Hospital at the turn of the century. It was housed in the building that now makes up LXR Hall and Nevils.
COURTESY GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES
Georgetown University Hospital at the turn of the century. It was housed in the building that now makes up LXR Hall and Nevils.

At the break of the 20th century, the ground floor of LXR Hall wasn’t housing students; it was housing dead bodies.

While today the building serves as a dormitory, its bottom floor functioned as the morgue of Georgetown University Hospital from 1898 to 1947.

The hospital originally sat at the corner of 35th and N Streets in the building that is currently LXR and Nevils, which is now home to students’ rooms and apartments, music practice rooms and lounge areas.

Former University President J. Havens Richards, S.J., constructed a comprehensive hospital complex in order to address an increase in the school’s size, according to “A History of Georgetown University” by Robert Emmett Curran, an emeritus professor of history at the university. Richards also wanted to encourage faculty clinical practice and serve the general community.

In the 49 years after the hospital opened outside the front gates in July 1898, its staff contributed to the study and practice of medicine as the hospital’s emergency room became noted for its practice of aseptic surgery, which emphasizes maintaining the cleanliness of the operating room. Additionally, the National Laboratory of Hygiene, the first facility devoted to bacteria research in United States, was founded within the new complex.

During these years, medical school administration standardized the curriculum and increased the length of study from two to three years. In 1947, the university officially opened the current Georgetown University Hospital on Reservoir Road and saw through the building’s transformation into what is now LXR.

Students now reside in what used to be hospital wards, operating rooms and mortuary facilities. Though the university does not hide this fact, students are often surprised by the building’s origins.

“I actually didn’t know [it used to be morgue],” Max Barrett (MSB ’14). “I’m kind of freaked out now.

“The mice are a bigger problem than the morgue,” David Finkelstein (COL ’14) said. “But I still think it’s better than [Village C West].”


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