Ellis Island, Contagious Disease Hospital Kitchen, New York Harbor, New York, New York County, NY
Significance: The Kitchen was a support structure for the Contagious Disease Hospital complex on Island 3 of the Ellis Island U. S. Immigration Station. Construction of the Contagious Disease Hospital in 1907-08 greatly expanded the hospital facilities run by the U. S. Public Health and Marine Hospital Service (after 1912, U. S. Public Health Service, or USPHS) in conjunction with the Bureau of Immigration at Ellis Island. Concerns about the spread of contagious diseases such as measles, scarlet fever, and trachoma (an eye disease that could lead to blindness) prompted Ellis Island officials to lobby for an expanded hospital capability on the island itself, rather than transporting these cases to medical facilities throughout New York City. This effort represents both compassion in providing highly professional medical care for ill immigrants and fears regarding urban public health and the potential diseases carried by arriving aliens. In later decades the function of the USPHS hospitals at Ellis Island shifted to caring for a complex mix of immigrants, detainees, merchant seaman, service members and other local citizens eligible for government medical care.
The Kitchen and the Contagious Disease Hospital were designed by James Knox Taylor, the Supervising Architect of the Treasury. The Office of the Supervising Architect was responsible for the design of federal facilities, in this case working for the Department of Commerce and Labor in consultation with the USPHS surgeons assigned to Ellis Island. The Contagious Disease Hospital was a mature example of a pavilion plan hospital, a form favored since its establishment in Europe during the nineteenth century and in the United States largely since after the Civil War. The Kitchen was located directly behind the Administration Building and designed as a free-standing structure except for a connecting hall leading to the main passageway and the various other support structures and ward pavilions. The relatively diminutive Kitchen is further dwarfed by its massive square chimney stack. The Kitchen is executed in the same Georgian Revival mode as the rest of the Island 3 hospital, with red tile roof, pebble and dash stucco wall treatment, and red brick quoins and details. This decorative treatment complemented the Georgian Revival monumentality of the Island 2 general hospital while the detailing and lower scale of the new hospital made it visually distinct.
The USPHS vacated the hospital facilities on March 1, 1951 and the U.S. Coast Guard Port Security Unit at Ellis Island expanded to use portions of the Island 3 hospital for file storage. The Ellis Island U. S. Immigration Station ceased operation on November 12, 1954 and the complex was largely unoccupied until it was made part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965, under the administration of the U. S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N1676
Survey number: HABS NY-6086-S
Building/structure dates: 1907 Initial Construction
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 66000058