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by E. Caylor Bowen


Because of the disadvantage of having naval personnel in a hospital with the insane, and the increased strategic importance of the navy yard near the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, Congress, on March 14, 1864, was induced to appropriate $25,000 for the construction of a new building for a naval hospital near the yard – on Square 948, a trapezium bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, 9th and 10th Streets, southeast. When the hospital was completed the plat was enclosed by an ornate iron railing.

It was during the period of construction of the naval hospital (at the outbreak of the Civil War) that the Washington Infirmary was confiscated for the exclusive use by the Union Army. Nuns of “The Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent DePaul,” from Emmitsburg, Maryland, were persuaded to establish a civilian hospital in a rented building at 2nd and E Streets, southeast – seven city blocks from the proposed U.S. Naval Hospital at 9th Street. Founded in June of 1861, on the old Carroll homestead, they called it Providence Hospital, and admitted both military and civilian casualties of the war. A replacement building at 2nd and D Streets was completed in 1872. This structure was also later replaced by a newer one that became famous for its innovative architectural features that included a soaring 175-ft-high belltower. It was the first hospital in the city of Washington to feature a surgical amphitheater for teaching purposes.

Authority to purchase land for a naval hospital is found in the government publication FEDERAL OWNED REAL ESTATE under the control of the NAVY DEPARTMENT, issued by the Bureau of Yards and Docks (1937: (continued on page 21)

This site is sponsored by the Friends of the Old Naval Hospital

Last updated November 22, 2008