ACP History: ACP Headquarters Buildings - Part 2 - The Fire at Eisenlohr Mansion

One of the decisions made in 1961 to make the construction of the Eisenlohr Mansion's new wing (located at 4200 Pine Street) affordable was the substitution of wood floors for concrete. This practical decision would later be reexamined due to a fire that destroyed a considerable portion of the headquarters' new wing on February 17, 1966. It was concluded that a defective electric motor in one of the new air conditioning units caused the fire. The College was quite lucky despite the level of damage done to the headquarters. All membership records, proposals for new membership, postgraduate course registrations and all pre-registration for the 1966 New York Annual Session were intact. Only two Annals manuscripts, lying on a desk while being edited, were destroyed; the rest were in a steel filing cabinet and were only scorched around the edges. While all advertising records were destroyed, the Addressograph plates in the Circulation Department remained relatively untouched. Consequently, the April 1966 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine was mailed to subscribers only a few days late.

ACP Headquarters 4200 Pine Street

Objects and memorabilia, which are currently on display in ACP's Boardroom area, also managed to survive this fire intact. The oil painting of Mr. Edward R. Loveland, the former Executive Secretary of the College, that hung in the Boardroom was completely covered with soot, but fortunately was restored to virtually perfect condition. The College Mace, used for the first time the previous year at the 50th Anniversary celebration in Chicago, as well as the Caduceus and the President's Badge, were also undamaged. A pre-Civil War farm house adjacent to the headquarters structure, which the College also owned, was occupied by the Group Insurance Administrators (GIA). With the cooperation of the GIA, most of the College Administrative Staff, along with the Editorial Department of the Annals, were crowded into the building until the damaged wing could be rebuilt. The College Staff also was able to use the basement of an undamaged part of the headquarters building to operate at near normal capacity during the rebuilding. The R. M. Shoemaker Co., which had erected the burned out wing five years earlier, estimated that it would cost approximately $325,000 to rebuild.

Reconstruction began in June 1966, and it was hoped that reoccupancy could take place by early 1967. Eleven months after the fire destroyed the west wing, the Administrative Staff of the American College of Physicians moved into the reconstructed building. The College received $341,079 as part of the insurance settlement for the fire damage. The Board of Regents also agreed to several improvements not covered by insurance, which totaled approximately $66,000. These included additional offices as well as new fire protection and air conditioning systems. In 1970, new additions were added to the headquarters and were completed fully by 1972. The College now had a five-story wing including an adjacent parking area and driveway. The total cost of the building additions was $1,318,494. This was financed through a special assessment of the members, which raised $544,370, and by the previously cumulated building fund, accrued annually at $100,000.

-Prepared July 2013 by Eric Greenberg, based on materials from the Archives of the American College of Physicians and Piersol, George M. Gateway of Honor: The American College of Physicians, 1915-1959. Lancaster, PA: Lancaster Press, 1962; Rosenow EC Jr. History of the American College of Physicians: Executive Perspectives, 1959-1977. Philadelphia: American College of Physicians; 1984 and Moser, Robert H. A Decade of Decision: A Physician Remembers the American College of Physicians, 1977-1986. Philadelphia, PA: American College of Physicians, 1991.