Hospital ruins, 2007
|Location||Roosevelt Island, Manhattan, NY|
|Area||0.9 acres (3,600 m2)|
|Architect||James Renwick, Jr., et al.|
|Architectural style||Gothic Revival|
|Governing body||Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation|
|NRHP Reference #||72000881|
|Added to NRHP||March 16, 1972|
|Designated NYCL||March 23, 1976|
The Smallpox Hospital (sometimes referred to as the Renwick Smallpox Hospital and later the Maternity and Charity Hospital Training School) is an abandoned hospital located on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Designed by architect James Renwick, Jr., the 100-bed hospital opened in 1856, when the area was known as Blackwell's Island.
A century after it opened, the hospital was closed. The building eventually fell into disrepair. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and designated a New York City Landmark four years later, the only ruin in the city with that designation. After the completion of an ongoing $4.5 million stabilization project, the Smallpox Hospital ruins will be open to the public.
The hospital is situated in an otherwise undeveloped area at the southern tip of the island. It was a three-story, nine-bay U-shaped structure faced in granite veneer in a random ashlar pattern over load-bearing rubble masonry. The central block has a hipped roof, with corbeled crenelated parapets on the projecting sections, with a simple cornice on the non-projecting sections. Crenelated polygonal chimneys rise from the southeast side of the main block. The two wings, which project from the ends of the northwest (front) facade, had mansard roofs.
At the center of the front facade is the main entrance. It has a porch open on three sides, oriel window above and projecting corbeled feature above the roofline. A wide pointed arch holds the main entrance. Though designed in the Gothic Revival style, all of the windows on the third floor have pointed arches rather than curves, unusual for that architectural style.
Hospital and school
Despite the availability of the smallpox vaccine, New York City still had large outbreaks of the disease, in part because of the arrival of infected immigrants. Located on the isolated southern tip of the island in an attempt to quarantine patients, the hospital contained a large charity ward in addition to private rooms on the upper floors. In 1875, the hospital closed and became a training center for nurses attached to City Hospital, later renamed Charity Hospital. Renwick designed the building in the Gothic Revival style, and in 1903-1905, two wings with the same architectural theme were added to the school, named the Home for the Nurses and the Maternity and Charity Hospital Training School, to accommodate the growing student base. In deference to the changing use of the island, in 1921 Blackwell's Island was renamed Welfare Island, and many of the structures there fell into disrepair as they became obsolete. In the 1950s, both Charity Hospital and the nurses school were closed, and their operations moved to new buildings in Queens.
Both buildings fell into disrepair, eventually becoming ruins. In the 1970s, architect Giorgio Cavaglieri inspected them both, making plans to reinforce the walls of the Smallpox Hospital. In 1972, the hospital was added to the National Register of Historic Places, making it New York City's "only landmarked ruin." In 1973, Welfare Island was renamed as Roosevelt Island in honor of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Often referred to as the Renwick Ruin, the Neo-Gothic ruins have been illuminated nightly since 1995, in a somewhat successful effort to raise funds for stabilizing the structure. However, on December 26, 2007, a section of the north wing collapsed, adding an urgency to preservation plans. On May 28, 2009, ground was broken on a new park on Roosevelt Island that includes plans to stabilize the Smallpox Hospital, a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and a 14-acre (57,000 m2) public area. After a $4.5 million stabilization project, the Smallpox Hospital ruins will be open to the public.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Renwick Smallpox Hospital.|
- List of New York City Designated Landmarks in Manhattan on Islands
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Manhattan on islands
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Rosebrook, Ellen (June 15, 1971). "National Register of Historic Places nomination, Smallpox Hospital". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2009-12-06.
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, PDF, March 23, 1976,
- David W. Dunlap (2008-01-05). "A Roosevelt Island Ruin Sinks Further Into Decay". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- "Timeline of Roosevelt Island History". NYC10044.com. The Main Street WIRE. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- "NYC Opening Old Smallpox Hospital to Public". 1010WINS.com. WINS (AM). 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2009-12-02.[dead link]
- David W. Dunlap (2009-04-14). "Shoring Up a Landmark Ruin on Roosevelt Island". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- "Smallpox Hospital (Renwick Ruin)". rihs.us. Roosevelt Island Historical Society. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- "NEW YORK - New York County - Vacant / Not In Use". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- Gregory Beyer (2009-01-23). "Roosevelt Island - Signs of Progress for a Memorial Deferred on Roosevelt Island". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- Christopher Gray (2008-09-22). "Preserving a Ruin on Roosevelt Island Proves Costly". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- Brendan Brosh (2008-02-18). "Preservationists say 3M needed to save Roosevelt Island Smallpox hospital". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- Renwick Smallpox Hospital photographs at Opacity.us