Capitol Hill in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Old Naval Hospital
This site has been associated with Navy medicine since 1800 when an apothecary shop located here provided medical services to sailors and marines from the nearby Navy Yard and Marine Barracks.
Naval Hospital, Washington City
In 1864, three years into the Civil War, President Lincoln signed an Act of Congress "for erecting a naval hospital at Washington City" that would serve the Navy's needs beyond the war's end. Under architect Ammi B. Young, construction of this fifty-bed facility was completed in 1866 at a final cost of $115,000.
The first Officer-in-Charge of Naval Hospital Washington, DC, was Dr. Charles Maxwell. After serving briefly in the Army, he obtained a Naval commission as an Assistant Surgeon in 1837. Over the next 31 years, Maxwell charted a course that would take him across the globe as a ship's surgeon in the Home Squadron and Fleet Surgeon in the Pacific. He would spend his last years of service as the head of Naval Hospital Washington, DC, from 1866 to 1868, before retiring from active duty.
Some of the Hospital's patient records have been digitized and are available at the National Archives. Most patients were admitted for non-surgical conditions, hardly surprising since the application of general anesthesia did not come into common use until the second half of the 19th Century.
The first patient was Benjamin Drummond, an African American sailor who had been wounded in action by Confederate forces off the coast of Texas in 1862. The hospital continued to serve sick and wounded servicemen until 1906, when it moved to a newly constructed facility on the site of the Old Naval Observatory at 23rd and E Streets N.W. ("the New Naval Hospital"), which, in turn, was replaced by the Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1942.
Benjamin Drummond October 1st, 1866
The hospital's log lists Benjamin Drummond as the first patient.
Benjamin Drummond, Col'd Ord. Sea, Age 28, Nat. Mass. Shipped Dec 1864 Portsth. NH. Transferred from temporary Naval Hospital (at Insane Asylum) with gunshot wound of left leg + following statement of Hospital ticket. "Received injury at the capture of the "Morning Light" Jan'y 1863 off the coast of Texas — Injury was received in the line of duty. Richard C. Dean Surgeon"
Hospital Corps School
After the hospital's relocation in 1906, the building was renovated and
Temporary Home for Veterans
In 1922, the Old Naval Hospital was leased to the Temporary Home of Union Ex-Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. Operated by the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War veterans' organization, it served as a hostel for veterans having business with the government.
In 1963 control of the site was transferred to the District of Columbia, which used the space for administering anti-poverty programs and then leased it to the Center for Youth Services and several other entities, including the effort that won establishment of the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday. But the aging facility was not properly maintained and by the end of the century the building stood essentially vacant and in serious disrepair.
Rebirth as Hill Center
Concerned neighbors pushed to save the historic site, and a group of them, organized as the Old Naval Hospital Foundation, won permission from the city to rehabilitate it and manage its long-term use. With generous support from the community, the renovation was completed in 2011 and the Old Naval Hospital reopened as Hill Center, providing an array of arts, education and programs for people of all ages.
The whole site, with its monumental fence, carriage house and grounds, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This marker was dedicated on October 1, 2016, the 150th anniversary of the hospital's opening, by the Naval Order of the United States, Hill Center, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, and the Foundation for the History of Navy Medicine.
Learn more at OldNavalHospitalHistory.org.
Location. 38° 52.969′ N, 76° 59.585′ W. Marker is in Capitol Hill, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on E Street Southeast east of 10th Street Southeast, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 921 Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, Washington DC 20003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Healing the Wounded (within shouting distance of this marker); Commerce and Community (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Oldest Post of the Corps (about 600 feet away); At the Crossroads (about 700 feet away); A Neighborhood For Everyone (about 700 feet away); Edge of the Row (approx. 0.2 miles away); John Philip Sousa (approx. ¼ mile away); Marine Barracks (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Capitol Hill.
Categories. • African Americans • Science & Medicine • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 8, 2019. This page originally submitted on December 30, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 55 times since then and 35 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 30, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.