University of Texas Medical Branch

The Nicholas Clayton Architectural Drawings

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Clayton, Nicholas Joseph, 1839-1916
Title: The Nicholas Clayton Architectural Drawings
Identification: MS 148
Language: English
Repository: Truman G. Blocker, Jr. History of Medicine Collections, Moody Medical Library, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, 77555. Phone: 409-772-2397.

Historical Note

When Nicholas Clayton (1840-1916) came to Galveston from Ohio in 1872 to oversee the construction of the First Presbyterian Church, it was the start of a 30 year period of the Island’s history that came to be known as the “Clayton Era.” He was only 32 years old and the city had no professional architect. Galveston was ripe for new construction as it was full into a post-Civil War construction boom. Because of its success as a natural deep water port, Galveston was rapidly becoming Texas’ largest and most wealthy city, receiving the accolade as “Queen City of the Gulf.”

Throughout his career, Clayton created many different types of buildings: small cottages, grand homes, commercial buildings, hospitals, churches and synagogues. He drew plans by first studying the subjects thoroughly. For example, in the late 1880s when designing Old Red and the original John Sealy Hospital, he traveled around the country to carefully observe the most modern health facilities and incorporated what he saw to fit into the Island’s new medical school building and adjacent hospital.

At his death in 1884, commission merchant and banker John Sealy, bequeathed $50,000 “for a charitable purpose” to be selected at the discretion of his brother, George, and widow, Rebecca Sealy. They chose to construct the first John Sealy Hospital which began the association with UTMB that continues today.

Galveston’s premier architect created plans in 1888 and the hospital opened its doors on January 10, 1890. In 1891, the Galveston Daily News described the facility:

This hospital, built upon the most improved scientific and hygienic modern methods, occupies a block of land, donated by the City to the State, and commands a beautiful view of the gulf on one side and the of the shipping and bay from the other.

John Sealy Hospital was built in a pavilion-type plan, with a central mass flanked by the wards. This was thought to help with ventilation and provide fresh air, a plan most acceptable to those known in this field of hospital design in the 19th century including Florence Nightingale. The building featured Clayton’s Renaissance style: round-arch features, decorative cornice and roofline articulation; and some surface patterning.

Scope and Contents Note

This collection contains 9 architectural drawings of the original John Sealy Hospital and date between 1888 and 1889.


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use. Materials may be viewed in the Truman G. Blocker, Jr. History of Medicine Collections of the Moody Medical Library.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of Item], in the Nicholas Clayton Architectural Drawings collection, MS 148, Truman G. Blocker, Jr. History of Medicine Collections, Moody Medical Library, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas.

Processing Information

These records were organized and processed by staff of the Truman G. Blocker, Jr. History of Medicine Collections. Finding aid prepared by Robert Marlin and Kelly Caldwell; encoded by Richard L. Watts in EAD 2002 W3C in January of 2017.