The Murph

Many Chicagians are familiar with the American College of Surgeons because of its highly visible museum located on Lake Shore Drive in the Gold Coast.  Who hasn't noticed the distinctive sculpture out front?  

The museum, however, isn't the only signifiant Chicago architectural work associated with the American College of Surgeons.  The John B. Murphy Memorial sits just down the road a bit on Erie, two blocks west of Michigan Avenue.  It serves as a memorial to its namesake, one of the founding members of the American College of Surgeons.    

Murphy was a pioneering surgeon, who was born in Appleton, Wisconsin and who died on Mackinac Island in 1916, 58 years later.  Along the way, he became an early advocate for the removal of the appendix as the proper response to appendicitis.  He developed a number of other procedures and practices, including the Murphy drip, which is something akin to an enema, designed to replace fluids.

He did have some notable patients, including President Theodore Roosevelt, following a 1912 assassination attempt in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Some 25 years earlier, he was one of the physicians who was called to treat victims of the Haymarket Riot.  He tended to at least 30 of those who had been injured.   

For his work, Murphy received many honors, including being knighted as a member of the Order of St. Gregory the Great on orders of Pope Benedict XV.  In 1923, his colleagues also recognized his achievements.  Ground was broken on a memorial auditorium, which was completed in 1926.  Designed by Marshall and Fox, a prominent architectural firm, the building reflects the French Renaissance style.  Built at a cost of $600,000, the building is based on the Chapelle de Notre-Dame de Consolation in Paris.

The American College of Surgeons has moved its headquarters to Streeterville (633 N. Saint Clair), so the auditorium is now used as an event space available to the public.  Since the completion of its renovation in 2006, the "Murph" has hosted fashion shows, television shoots, professional sports media events, university alumni awards, and commercial shoots, as well as plenty of brides and grooms.

Photographer's Notes.  I've been back to this site multiple times.  Often, there was a car or truck parked in front of the building.  Today I was lucky.  The Lesson:  Keep going back until the conditions are right.

This photograph was made using an Arca Swiss tech camera, with a 23mm Rodenstock Copal lens mounted.  I also attached a dark glass filter to sharpen the image in-camera.  It is comprised of two photographs stitched together.

The Gilded Age

The Gilded Age

Hands at Day's End

Hands at Day's End