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Nursing history show and tell: Issue 3

Apr 1, 2019
Guylaine Spencer

The McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences Archives houses several collections, including those of the McMaster School of Nursing. This is one in a series of articles where we’ll be highlighting some of our historic treasures.

Artifact: Architect’s drawings of the proposed School of Nursing Building

In 1948, McMaster University was drawing up plans for new buildings on campus – the first new permanent ones to be added since the original 1928 buildings. The new buildings proposed included Mills Library, an Alumni centre, a building for nuclear studies, and a building to house the School of Nursing. The architectural drawings of the nursing building can be found in the Archives. The plans were by William R. Souter and Associates, a well-known Hamilton firm.

Nursing building plans - front

Photo above: Drawings by architect. Proposed nursing building.

In her book, 25 Years A-Growing, former McMaster nursing professor Henrietta Jane Alderson writes that the nursing building “was to have been sited across from the Refectory at an estimated cost of $260,000. The plans were abandoned, however, after much study and consideration. They fell prey to decreasing numbers of applicants and changed thinking with respect to the wisdom of widening the separation between the general study body of the university and students in Nursing.”

Nursing building north elevation

Photo above: Drawings by architect. North elevation of proposed building.

At the time, total enrollment in the nursing program, which had just opened in 1946, was fewer than 20 students. Classes were held in Hamilton Hall, where they continued until 1974, when the School of Nursing became part of the newly-created Faculty of Health Sciences and moved into the McMaster University Medical Centre (now called the McMaster Health Sciences Centre).

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