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Posted August 22, 2013

Rochester's Historic Eastman Dental Dispensary Saved

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A truly historic Rochester building is finally being rescued. Long on the Landmark Society’s list of Five to Revive the Eastman Dental Dispensary is to be renovated.

The Dispensary at 800 Main Street (across from Black Friars) ranks among this community’s most important historic structures. The original Rochester Dental Dispensary opened in 1905 on South Washington Street, with a $600 donation from Captain Henry Lomb of Bausch and Lomb. It was the creation of the Seventh District Dental Society in association with the Rochester Public Health Association.

The clinic floundered. It was reorganized in 1910 and George Eastman got involved in 1915 and built the dispensary. A year later Frank Ritter's daughters donated all the necessary dispensary equipment. The Rochester School of Dental Hygiene was also established. The clinic not only offered dental care to the community, “public health,” but the clinic was a school for dental technicians and eventually dental interns.

Here is a little of the history of the Dispensary, courtesy of the U of R:

1919: The Dispensary's Tonsil-Adenoid Clinic opens. George Eastman provides an additional endowment of 1000 shares of Kodak stock to support the treatment of nose and throat ailments and orthodontics.

1920: Eastman gives $4 million to match $5 million grant by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., making possible the University of Rochester's School of Medicine and Dentistry. A plan to develop the School of Medicine and Dentistry in connection with the University of Rochester is announced.

1928: Plans for the dental component of the School of Medicine and Dentistry in cooperation with the Dispensary are abandoned for lack of student interest. The University of Rochester Dental Fellows Program is developed.

1929: The Rockefeller Foundation provides fellowships to the UR to support dental research and training. A consultation dental clinic is established in Strong Memorial Hospital's out-patient department.

1955: The Department of Dentistry and Dental Research is created at the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry.

1963: American Dental Association approves Dental Dispensary intern rotations at the Genesee Hospital.

1968: The Rochester Neighborhood Health Center, is opened in Hanover Houses with three dentists on staff who hold appointments at Eastman Dental Center or the UR.

1969: Formal affiliation between The Genesee Hospital's dental department and the UR SMD takes place. The American Dental Association approves a three-year oral surgery program, jointly developed with the school and The Genesee Hospital.

1973: A formal affiliation between The Genesee Hospital's dental department and EDC takes place.

1978: The new Eastman Dental Center at 625 Elmwood Avenue is dedicated on October 26.

And the Dental Dispensary on Main Street is closed.

But the story doesn’t end there.

1998: The Eastman Department of Dentistry and the Center for Oral Biology are founded. 2010: New Eastman Dental Urgent Care is established. It is the only dedicated urgent dental care facility in the region. Major clinical re-engineering effort well underway to improve facilities, operations and patient satisfaction.

Now, in 2013, the historic building abandoned for decades, will get a new life. The plan, as we know it, is to build affordable apartments in the structure. It will be a wonderful addition to the growth of downtown and an excellent act of historical preservation.

[Photo courtesy of the Landmark Society]


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