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The doctor who couldn’t slow down

doctor's house call bag / royalty free

It’s fitting that the late 19th century doctor’s office preserved today by the Lewes Historical Society was built by David Hall (1831-1905). Hall was steeped in medical culture: his grandfather Joseph, his father Henry, and after him his only child William, were all physicians.

Hall built the Greek Revival structure that housed the practice shown here in the early 1850s. He could be found for close to half a century on Savannah Road across from Second Street in Lewes, when in 1900 he finally sold the building.

David Hall was sought out by the governor to serve as one of seven founding members of Delaware’s State Board of Health in 1879. He served as President of the Delaware State Medical Society in 1881. It was no stretch for the Morning News [Wilmington] to call him, by 1898, “One of the most popular physicians of this state.”

Dr. Hall made regular house calls both during the time he ran his office, and after. “Dr. Hall has passed the three-score-and-ten mark,” reported The Evening Journal [Wilmington] in January 1905, “but still insists on attending to his practice. He has so endeared himself to the people that they have implicit faith in his ability and send for him regularly.” He had just seen 50 patients in one day of rounds.

This demanding schedule proved finally to be too much for the elderly Hall; he died just two weeks later. However, as someone who didn’t believe in retirement, he did get his wish to ‘die in harness,’ as he put it.

Dr. David Hall's medical office. Recreated by Lewes Historical Society
Dr. David Hall’s medical office. Recreated by Lewes Historical Society

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