Old Naval Observatory

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Old Naval Observatory
US Naval Observatory (Washington, District of Columbia).jpg
Location 23rd Street and E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°53′42″N 77°03′05″W / 38.895103°N 77.051443°W / 38.895103; -77.051443
Built 1844
Architect James Gilliss
Architectural style No Style Listed
NRHP Reference # 66000864
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL January 12, 1965[2]

Old Naval Observatory is a historic site in Northwest, Washington, D.C.. The Washington meridian of 1850 passes through the Observatory.


The observatory operated from 1844 to 1893 when it was closed in favor of a new U.S. Naval Observatory facility on Massachusetts Avenue. The building and grounds were retained by the U.S. Navy, which first used it to house the Naval Museum of Hygiene from 1894 to 1902. Beginning in 1903, the Naval Medical Hospital was constructed on the grounds, and it remained in use until 1942, when hospital operations were transferred to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.[3] It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.[2][4]

The facility housed the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery until 2012.[5] The grounds and observatory are closed to the public. The entire Navy Hill is being transferred to the United States Department of State due to Base Realignment and Closure, and the Navy will be moving out. The Central Intelligence Agency's forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services was a tenant on the Hill during World War II, and the United States Public Health Service had a hospital there.

In 2014, the Department of State began expanding into the Navy Hill. A joint venture consisting of the architectural firms of Goody, Clancy and the Louis Berger Group won a $2.5 million contract in January 2014 to begin planning the renovation of the buildings on the 11.8 acres (48,000 m2) Navy Hill campus.[6]


  1. ^ Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Old Naval Observatory". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  3. ^ Inci A. Bowman (September 13, 2006). "Historic Medical Sites in the Washington, DC Area". National Library of Medicine. 
  4. ^ Blanche H. Schroer and Steven H. Lewis (March 3, 1977). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Old Naval Observatory" (PDF). National Park Service.  and Accompanying nine photos, exterior and interior, from 1873, 1975, and undated
  5. ^ Pilip-Florea, Shonona. "Navy Medicine Headquarters Moves to Falls Church, Va." America's Navy May 30, 2012 Accessed 2014-05-16.
  6. ^ Sernovitz, Daniel J. "Boston Firm Picked for State Department Consolidation." Washington Business Journal. January 14, 2014. Accessed 2014-01-14.

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Coordinates: 38°53′42″N 77°03′05″W / 38.895103°N 77.051443°W / 38.895103; -77.051443