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UTMB Medical School and "Old Red" in Galveston, Texas

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Galveston Old Red Building on UTMB Campus

Galveston Old Red Building on UTMB Campus

Galveston Vacation

Many people think of Galveston for one reason only; a Galveston vacation on the beach is what they seek. This barrier island, located just 45 miles southeast of Houston, has miles and miles of beaches luring those who like to play in the sand and surf, but some people come to Galveston Island to get an education at the University of Texas Medical Branch (a.k.a. UTMB) Galveston.

From very modest beginnings in 1891, this is the oldest medical school west of the Mississippi River. It was also the first medical school in the State of Texas. UTMB has grown to become something that the originators of this complex probably never dreamed possible.

Another view of Old Red on the UTMB campus

Another view of Old Red on the UTMB campus

Old Red

Old Red is the affectionate nickname for this outstanding building designed by noted architect Nicolas Clayton. He designed the Bishop's Palace along with other spectacular buildings located on Galveston Island during his exceptional career.

People who appreciate architecture will enjoy viewing this stunning building. Old Red is a great example of Romanesque Revival style with its round arches and rows of bricks and stone used in a continuous fashion. Note the semi-circular arches over so many of the windows. It makes for an elegant and grand appearance.

Old Red was initially named the Ashbel Smith Building after Dr. Ashbel Smith. Dr. Ashbel Smith was one of the people instrumental in getting the medical school building established on Galveston Island.

The colors of the red Texas granite and sandstone along with the red pressed brick used in the construction of this building give it this pink to reddish overall appearance, thus the affectionate chromatic hued nickname.

The Ashbel Smith Building has the distinction of not only being picturesque but has earned a Texas Historical Commission marker and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

UTMB Galveston

Up until the year 1922, the Ashbel Smith Building was the only classroom plus lab space for the medical students who came to Galveston to study and attain their degrees. Starting from just one building in 1891 with an initial class of 23 students, this UTMB Galveston campus has grown to encompass 84 acres of land and now has over 70 buildings and around 2,500 students.

These students study everything from becoming different types of therapists to nurses, physician assistants, doctors, researchers and more. Just about anything related to the health field can be studied and learned at this medical school. With seven hospitals and multiple clinics plus a focus on serving the medically underserved people in the community, this offers students a chance to become fully involved in this learning environment without having to go elsewhere to gain experience.

Galveston offers one of only three level one trauma centers in the Houston metropolitan area. If someone has a serious life threatening emergency this is one of the places where one would wish to be treated if at all possible.

UTMB also has the distinction of having one of the two national bio-containment laboratories in the United States. Vital work is accomplished here which impacts not only United States citizens but potentially those all around the world. Research done here can hopefully ward off or at least help alleviate the effects of the next world pandemic as an example.

Galveston Island Beaches

Just imagine that you are one of those students attending UTMB Galveston and have had a long day studying and doing some clinical practice. Would the lure of walking on a beach just minutes from where you live be of interest when wishing to relax?

Whether you are a student or a vacationer these are some of the things available just minutes away no matter where you stay or live on the island:

  • water sports,
  • bicycling on the beach,
  • surfing,
  • boating,
  • fishing,
  • playing volleyball or badminton on a sun drenched beach,
  • laying on a beach blanket listening to the soothing sounds of the repetitive waves,
  • shelling and hoping to start or add to a seashell collection
  • or watching sunsets and listening to the numerous seabirds.

There are different types of beaches offering many kinds of amenities found on Galveston Island. One of the popular ones is featured in the video below.

My Linocut Art

Many school children who take art classes today are introduced to linocut art. I took a free class at a local community center as an adult. It was there that I learned how to make a linocut.

Architectural design of buildings makes for good subject matter and Old Red certainly drew my interest. It inspired me to create an original linoleum cut art print of it. A few of these hand printed limited edition linocuts were tinted using watercolor pencils after they were printed making them 1/1 prints. A number of them have been sold to graduating students from UTMB Galveston during the one person shows that I have had in Galveston.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this look at the architectural design of the Ashbel Smith Building plus learned something about the medical school found on the captivating island of Galveston.

Old Red Original Linocut by Peggy Woods

Old Red Original Linocut by Peggy Woods


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Peggy Woods