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Paul Lensky, MD Photograph Collection

Marvin Rape and "Spike" Davis. Jefferson Davis Hospital, 1947-1948

by Matt Richardson, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian

The Texas Medical Center Library, McGovern Historical Center is excited to announce the availability of the MS 236 Paul Lensky, MD Photograph Collection. A complete guide to the collection has now been published, and all 27 black and white snapshots have been digitized and posted online.

[?], Weller, Homer Allgood. Jeff Davis, 1947-1948
Fred Weller, Homer Allgood, and another man on the hospital roof. MS236-014, Paul Lensky Photograph Collection, McGovern Historical Center, TMC Library
Dr. Paul Lenksy was a pediatrician practicing in Houston. The snapshots in this collection date from 1947-1948, when he was recently out of the University of Texas’ medical school and working at Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston.

The images depict Dr. Lensky’s friends and colleagues—often hanging out on the Hospital’s rooftop! Dr. Lenksy’s photographs is a glimpse into the lives of a group of young doctors and their colleagues: socializing, sunbathing, and even taking the occasional trip to Mexico.

After Dr. Lensky’s time at Jefferson Davis, he went on to practice at Hermann Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital. For more on Dr. Lensky’s life and career, check out our Biographical Note. We were able to piece together a good chunk of his CV, as well as his social life, by consulting a number of articles available on the Houston Chronicle Historical Archive via the Houston Public Library. The paper reported Dr. Lensky’s medical school graduation, his internship and residency, and his marriage to Eleanor Ruth Waldman–not to mention some of the parties the couple attended!

Thankfully, each photograph has the names of the people pictured written on the back, and this information has been added to our searchable descriptions. There were a couple of instances where we couldn’t quite make out the handwriting, so please send us an email if you recognize someone.

One added bonus of the rooftop perspective is that several photographs also show the surrounding neighborhoods, including Buffalo Drive and the San Felipe Courts in Houston’s Fourth Ward.

View of Houston, 1948
San Felipe Courts in Houston’s Fourth Ward with downtown in the distance, as seen from the hospital. MS236-014, Paul Lensky Photograph Collection, McGovern Historical Center, TMC Library

Since distinguishing between Houston’s two historical Jefferson Davis Hospitals can get a little tricky, views like these–along with the dates on the backs of the photographs–helped us pin down the right location.

Houston’s original Jefferson Davis Hospital was located at 1101 Elder Street in the First Ward. That Hospital operated from 1924-1938, in a four-story brick building designed in Classical-revival style. While the Hospital closed up shop long ago, the building itself still stands. The later Jefferson Davis Hospital—where Dr. Lensky’s photographs are largely set—was located along Buffalo Drive (now Allen Parkway) in the Fourth Ward. The new building was noticeably more modern and more vertical. Designed in Art Deco style, those facilities date from 1937, and were demolished in 1999.

To help navigate this bit of historical geography, our descriptions of the photographs include geographic coordinates indicating the Hospital site where most of the shots were taken. Check out the map at the bottom of this post.

To learn more about the collection and see the rest of the photos, click over to https://archives.library.tmc.edu/ms-236.

Center map

(Yes, the Federal Reserve Bank sits more or less where the Hospital used to be).