J. Cella was born of parents who had immigrated to Providence from
northern Italy. He had many brothers and sisters and he was one
of the youngest children. Because his father passed away when he
was relatively young, his older siblings contributed to his education.
He lost several of his siblings at any early age to tuberculosis,
endemic at the time, and to service in World War I. The family dispersed,
and two sisters moved to California.
Louis Cella first completed the Rhode Island School of Pharmacy,
then went to medical school at the University of Vermont, graduating
in 1914. Following his graduation from medical school, Dr. Cella
returned home for some post-graduate training. Within a year, he
met Laura Tirocchi through her sister-in-law who operated a pharmacy.
The two were married in 1915 and moved into 514 Broadway. Some years
later a wing was added on the ground floor for Dr. Cellas
medical practice. It was there that Dr. Cella examined patients
and conducted his other business, keeping up with his stocks and
bonds - especially during the stock market boom in the '20s.
Dr. Cella specialized in skin and venereal disorders, but also
had a general practice. An invoice for medical equipment (a cysto-urethroscope)
among his remaining papers and a piece of promotional literature
from a pharmaceutical company touting a preparation that promised
"substantial relief to hay fever patients" supports this
view of the doctors practice. His son, also a physician, remarked
that in looking through his fathers office in later years
he discovered a lot of urological equipment, which would have been
consistent with a practice that treated venereal diseases. A note
pad imprinted with his name and address announced office hours from
8-9 a.m., 2-4 p.m., 7-8 p.m., and by appointment.
Dr. Cella had many other interests. He worked with the Public Health
Department, and advocated the establishment of a reservoir in Scituate
that would provide fresh water for the town. He was also involved
in local politics, serving for a time as an Alderman representing
the 4th Ward around 1920.
Other letters remaining in the house indicate that although long
active in Republican politics, he used both major political parties
to serve his interests.
Cella traveled widely, too, both in Europe and in Asia. In the 1930s,
Dr. Cella was a medical missionary in China, working with an organization
that ran several clinics in southern China. His long voyage each
time began with a trip across the country to Vancouver, Canada,
from which he departed by ship for the Far East. His niece Primrose
remembers that he preferred to be driven rather than to use trains
or planes, engaging a chauffeur to drive him to the West Coast.
From Vancouver, Canada, he embarked by boat for China. His son who
was born in 1924, visited him there at least once, so he must have
carried out that work over a long period of time.
Throughout his life, Dr. Cella was able to combine and balance
his medical training and his civic and charitable interests. Perhaps
more significantly to this story, without sacrificing devotion to
his family he made an independent life for himself in a household
that was a decidedly female environment.
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