Dr. J.A.O. Brennan was born in 1880. His parents named him after Dr. J.A. Ochterlony, a prominent Louisville physician. He attended public and private school in Louisville and began medical school in 1897, graduating in 1901 under Dr. Ochterlony. Afterward, Dr. Brennan spent three years of post-graduate study in Europe, primarily in London, Vienna, Paris and Berlin. When he came back to the United States, Dr. Brennan worked at St. Mary's Hospital, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, and St. Anthony's Hospital here in Louisville.
In 1912, Dr. Brennan added the doctor's office and waiting and exam rooms to the north side of the Brennan House. He was a surgeon and general practitioner in this office until shortly before his death in 1963 at the age of 83. He was also a staff member at St. Anthony's and many people still remember being a patient of Dr. Brennan. At one time, he had offices in the Weissinger-Gaulbert building.
Dr. Brennan was the member of many organizations during his lifetime. In 1912, he was on the Library Board of the Jefferson County Medical Society. He was elected Vice President of the staff at St. Anthony's Hospital in 1928. He belonged to the American Academy of General Practice, The American Medical Association, The American Association of Railway Surgeons, The Louisville Society of Medicine, Society of Physicians and Surgeons, Jefferson County and Kentucky State Medical Societies, The Southern Medical Association, The Filson Club, The International College of Surgeons, The Pendennis Club, the Phi Chi Fraternity, and was fraternally linked to the Benevolent Protective-Order of the Elks. He was also a member of Louisville Lodge, No.8, B.P.G.E. and was a lifelong Democrat.
Dr. Brennan was known for his outgoing nature. Many remember his jaunty appearance and his old-fashioned good manners. Dr. Brennan would wear spats and a straw hat in the summer and a derby hat in the winter. He also never owned an automobile; he walked or rode the trolley. In emergencies, he took a carriage and later a taxi to his destinations. Dr. Brennan served as a doctor in WWI. He was commissioned a captain in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army and stationed at General Hospital #28 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He was also a member of the draft board for the Louisville district. He received his honorable discharge in 1919.
Some of Dr. Brennan's siblings lived in New York and it was said that he wrote to them every day. He also called them long distance every Sunday. After his father died, his sister Beulah inherited the home, and Dr. Brennan inherited it in 1952 upon her death. Dr. Brennan enjoyed the Victorian-style house, even though his tastes were more inclined to the 20th century. However, he did not make any dramatic aesthetic changes to the home in his lifetime.
Dr. Brennan died at St. Anthony's Hospital in 1963. He is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery along with the rest of the family. He was a lifelong bachelor and had no children. Thus, Dr. Brennan left the home and its collections to The Filson Club and the Church Home, a charity run by St. Paul's Episcopal Church, of which Dr. Brennan was a parishioner. Some of the doctor's medical books and instruments were given to two Louisville doctors, Dr. Hoyt Gardner and Dr. Robert J. Alberhasky.
Today, on display in the Doctor's Office are instruments from the period (1912-1963) that were generously donated through the assistance of several local doctors and Dr. Harry Stambaugh. The Jefferson County Medical Society (housed in the original medical school at First and Chestnut streets) has also been generous in their efforts assisting The Brennan House.
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