United States Marine Hospital
The Marine Hospital Circa 2008
The Marine Hospital as it appeared in April 1972
Backstory and Context
In 1798, the United States issued an Act of Congress to create the Marine Hospital Service. This organization was established to create facilities and give hospital care for sick and disabled seamen. Following this action, the Marine Hospital Service established hospitals all around the young country in coastal and port cities.
The property for the building of the hospital was purchased by the United States from Joshua Kennedy in 1838 for $4000. The Kennedy family of Mobile owned most of Downtown Mobile at the time, they themselves had purchased the land from Thomas Price, an Indian Interpreter who had received the land as a grant from the Spanish Crown.
Plans to construct the hospital were underway in 1837 and fifteen thousand dollars were allocated for the building of the Marine Hospital. Public notices were sent out asking for proposals for the design of the new hospital. After several sets of plans from architects the architect Frederick Bunnell was accepted. The hospital opened and accepted its first patients in April of 1843. The building was designed to complement the nearby Mobile City Hospital constructed nearly ten years earlier. Both buildings are the only surviving examples of monumental Greek Revival style architecture in Mobile.
During the Civil War, federal buildings in the South were quickly occupied by Confederate forces. From the years 1861 to 1865, the hospital served wounded Confederate soldiers. In April of 1865, the building was returned to Union hands and by 1870 resumed service as a Marine Hospital.
During the early 20th century the hospital would undergo several name changes. In 1902 the hospital was renamed the “Public Health and Marine Service.”In 1912, the hospital was renamed again to the “United States Public Health Service.” Finally, in 1984 the building was rededicated as the “Major General William C. Gorgas Clinic.” Major General William Gorgas was a US Army Doctor and served as the US Army Surgeon General.
In 1952 the hospital, following lowering demand for military use, was converted to a small out-patient clinic for local Mobile. Not too long after in 1955, the US Government ceded the building to the State of Alabama for use as a Tuberculosis sanatorium. On May 22, 1974, the building was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places for significance on Architectural and Social/Humanitarian grounds.
Antwi, LT. Lewis K.. A brief history of the Public Health Service, Indiana University Bloomington. October 12th 2018. Accessed November 9th 2020. https://careers.publichealth.iu.edu/blog/2018/10/12/a-brief-history-of-the-public-health-service/.
Floyd, W. Warner. Marine Hospital, National Register of Historic Places. June 27th 1974. Accessed November 9th 2020. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=3b620cc0-60b7-490e-ac80-cf4849577262.
Wilkins, Woodrow W.. Marine Hospital & Gates, Library of Congress. August 17th 1966. Accessed November 9th 2020. https://loc.gov/pictures/item/al0605/.
Image gathered from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mobile_Marine_Hospital_02.JPG
Image gathered from: https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=3b620cc0-60b7-490e-ac80-cf4849577262