The Trent Room Becomes the Richmond House Room

Trent Room Dedication Ceremony, 1956In honor of the Medical Center Library’s Trent Room being renamed the Richmond House Room this month, the Archives is highlighting materials from our collections about its history in the display case on Level 2 of the Library.

The Richmond House Room is a 1730 period room containing pine paneling, bookcase doors, and fireplace surround removed from the Richmond House in Plaistow, England, which was once the seat of the Duke of Richmond. The room was donated to Duke in 1956 by Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans and architect Karl Block. (To the right is an image of the room's first visitors during the 1956 dedication ceremony.)

Blueprint of the Trent Room, circa 1975The room’s first location on campus was at the Duke University Hospital library in the Davison building. In 1975 when the Medical Center Library moved to the new Seeley G. Mudd Building, the Trent Room was disassembled and relocated to the building’s first floor, where it showcased the Trent Collection and artifacts from the History of Medicine Collections. (To the left is a blueprint of the room from the move.) In 2011 these collections moved to the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library on the main campus, but the Trent Room remained behind. The Rubenstein will be constructing a new space for a new Trent Room which will house selections from the Trent Collection.

Trent Room, 1964The room was named in honor of Semans’ husband, Dr. Josiah Charles Trent. Trent received his undergraduate degree from Duke in 1934, and from 1939 until his death in 1948, he was on the hospital’s house staff and assistant professor of surgery in charge of thoracic surgery at the School of Medicine. Before his death at age 34, Dr. Trent and his wife had amassed over 4,000 books and 2,500 manuscripts about the history of medicine – which the couple donated to Duke – making it one of the most distinguished collections in the country.

Today the Richmond House Room houses medical artifacts from the Medical Center Library & Archives collections and is available as a group study space. To learn more about the room’s history, check out the display case the next time you’re in the Library, and be sure visit the Richmond House Room on Level 1. To see historic images of the Richmond House Room, visit MEDSpace.

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