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Magitot Hospital

The name was a tribute to the French doctor Dr. Émile Jean Magitot (1833-1897), that dedicated his studies to the development and structure of human teeth, to the diseases of the mouth and the teeth and also to osteonecrosis of the jaw caused by phosphorus (Magitot disease).

Magitot Hospital

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 11/10/2013

By: Virginia Barbosa - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The history of Odontology in Brazil goes back to the XVI century when donataries brought guild masters that were licensed according to the determination of the Royal Charter of October 25, 1448 of the king D. Afonso of Portugal. In that charter, the dentist profession did not exist, but the practice of extracting teeth was in charge of barbers, whose activities were based on their few medical knowledge, that limited to the treatment of fractures and luxations, curing wounds, applying suckers, injections and leeches, opening abscesses, extracting teeth and also, to justify their title, cut hair and shave beards. Tiradentes worked in that context.

In the middle of the XVIII century, “for the first time in an official Portuguese diploma, the word dentist” was used and the Law of June 17, 1782, created this new category, with specific assignments. In Brazil, the first Charter [which would be called a diploma nowadays] for a dentist was granted, in 1820, to a French man, Eugênio Frederico Guertin.

The trajectory of Odontology in the country consolidated little by little with the creation of the Junta de Higiene (Hygiene Board) ,in 1850, that made it mandatory to register doctor, surgeons, apothecaries (pharmacists, dentists and midwives); the performance of tests for dentists in the Faculdade de Medicina do Rio de Janeiro in 1854; and, finally, Decree 9,311, of October 25, 1884, that instituted the first odontology courses in Brazil that worked together with the Medicine Universities (RJ and BA).

Between the graduates of the Odontology course in Bahia was dental surgeon Nelson de Albuquerque Melo that, back to Recife, was part of the administration of the Sociedade de Medicina de Pernambuco. By an initiative of that Society, it was created the Odontology School (1913). At first it worked together with the Pharmacy School. Later on, with the foundation of the Faculdade de Medicina de Pernambuco (1915), it started to be one of its annexed courses. Today, the course is part of the Centro de Ciências da Saúde, at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco.

Thirty-one years after the creation of the Odontology School, Dr. Nelson founded, on May 22, 1944, in Recife, the Magitot Hospital, totally dedicated to Odontology, the first of its kind in South America. The name was a tribute to the French doctor Dr. Émile Jean Magitot (1833-1897), that dedicated his studies to the development and structure of human teeth, to the diseases of the mouth and the teeth and also to osteonecrosis of the jaw caused by phosphorus (Magitot disease).

The Magitot Hospital was installed in a large house located on Av. Dezessete de Agosto, 2187, in the neighborhood of Casa Forte and operated there until the beginning of the 1950s, when the building was dispossessed. It offered services for free and had, in its facilities, clinic, surgery and radiology offices and three infirmaries.

It changed address and occupied a building on Rua Benfica, 881, in the neighborhood of Madalena, with the help of the State Health Department, donations (including from its founder) and the voluntary work of dentists. There they already performed big surgery, highlighting to “an intervention on a young woman that had an osteosarcoma on her jaw, performed by the director himself and his team, successfully”. In an adjacent building, there was a children’s dental clinic..

At that time, the Odontology School was already named Faculdade de Odontologia da Universidade do Recife, and its founding session even took place at the Magitot Hospital, on March 18, 1955.

It didn’t take long before the government help became scarce and the management of the Hospital was forced to move. This time, they went to the neighborhood of Várzea, on a large house with two pavements, located where today is the Azevedo Coutinho street, on the corner of Pinto Dâmaso square, its last address. Even without the same conditions as before, they kept offering their specialized dental clinic services, oral and maxillofacial surgery, in addition to treatment of mouth diseases. With the death of its founder and without any institutional or political support, the Hospital ceased its activities at the end of the 1960s.

The big house was forgotten. Little by little, the external area was taken by seafood salesmen, fruit and vegetable stands. The internal area, the backyard, was occupied by a family. The abandoned building has broken walls, windows and doors, and doesn’t have tiles on the first floor. In 1992, a fire destroyed the roof and the floorboards of the first pavement. Even though it was in degradation, it was possible to recover it. In the 1990s, it was considered for a Imóvel Especial de Preservação (Special Preservation Building – IEP), but it didn’t make it. The community, however, claims, together with the Fundação do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico de Pernambuco (Fundarpe), the restoration of the building. The Fundarpe architect, Terezinha Pereira, with the support of the City of Recife and of architecture students of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), has a project for the location: a cultural center for the youth, where “there would be professional training and art production courses, music schools, fashion and gastronomy, besides from a restaurant”. The proposal is out there. The bureaucratic, technical and political and institutional support obstacles are numerous. However, if the big house, the only representative of the romantic cottage style with two pavements in Recife is recovered, it will be again a supporting spot for the local population.Recife, June 20, 2013.

sources consulted

CAVALCANTI, Maria de Lourdes. Terceiro milênio sem cárie: flúor 50 anos. Recife: Ed. Universitária da UFPE, 1995. 107 p. p. 97-99.

CHALÉ na lista dos esquecidos. Jornal do Commercio, Recife, 11 set. 2011. Cidades.

CIRUGÍA Oral y Maxilofacial. Recordando a Emile Magitot. Available at: <>. Accessed: 19 jun. 2013.

COMUNIDADE quer reformar antigo hospital. Available at: <>. Accessed: 19 jun. 2013.

MELO, José Roberto de. História da Odontologia brasileira. Recife: Bagaço, 1984.

UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DE PERNAMBUCO. Centro de Ciências da Saúde. Odontologia: histórico. Available at: <>. Accessed: 19 jun. 2013.

how to quote this text

Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Hospital Magitot. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <>. Accessed: day  month year. Exemple: 6 August 2009.