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UB Yesterday: 1934

High Street medical school lab

Photo courtesy of Robert L. Brown History of Medicine collection

By Rebecca Rudell

When the late Edward Eschner (MD ’37, BA ’32) was a young med student, he snapped some extraordinary photos of UB’s medical school at 24 High Street, including this one of the lab/museum and its unusual contents.

The room brims with hundreds of human artifacts, including skeletons, bone fragments and other anatomical specimens, all used to educate the university’s medical students. Dominating the room is “The Bear Hunt,” a dramatic skeletal composition of a hunter on a rearing horse with his faithful dog beside him, facing off against a charging bear. The 10-foot-tall tableau was designed and arranged by Charles H. Ward, and presented to UB between 1900 and 1901 by Charles Cary, a professor of clinical medicine. Ward’s skeletal creations were widely recognized as the finest in the country, earning him an award at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Catalogue of human and comparative skeletons, osteological specialties, and anatomical models

The school building itself was designed by Charles Cary’s brother, architect George Cary (who also designed the Buffalo History Museum). Dedicated in 1893, the Italian Renaissance-style structure included lecture classrooms, offices, a fireproof library, a dispensary and the space pictured here. In Charles Cary’s dedication speech, he described the structure’s open system of internal construction: “[It] exposes every plank and timber and every pipe to view—so that a walk through the building may be said to be a lesson in anatomy.”

Eschner went on to become chairman of UB’s Department of Radiology from 1957 to 1971. Upon his death in 2001, UB received his sizeable collection of medical artifacts, which resides in the Radiology Museum on the South Campus. As for the horse, rider and friends, they sadly disappeared when the school was relocated to present-day Farber Hall on the South Campus in 1953. If you happen to stumble upon a massive skeletal scene of a hunting expedition, please give us a call.

24 High Street

24 High Street