Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Hospital Building, Rixey Place, bounded by Williamson Drive, Holcomb Road, & The Circle, Portsmouth, Portsmouth, VA
Significance: The Greek Revival-style Naval Hospital, built in 1827-33, is the first Naval Hospital built in America. The first of six or seven medical facilities constructed for the Navy during the 1820s and 1830s, the Portsmouth Naval Hospital has provided medical facilities for Naval personnel for more than one hundred and fifty years, through the majority of U.S. wars and conflicts beginning with the Civil War. Designed by Philadelphia architect John Haviland, the Hospital was his first important commission outside Philadelphia, and his only federally-sponsored commission. One of the first American hospitals constructed with external galleries, and among the first in which iron was visibly employed, the design of the ward wings featured galleries with iron column supports. The massive stone Doric portico, designed to be visible from a great distance, was a departure from the more subtle character of Haviland's Philadelphia buildings, and remains distinctive within the context of his built works. Haviland's employment of Greek Revival-style architectural elements in a monumental manner is symbolic of the public function of the building. Periodic technical changes that occurred in the practice of medicine were reflected in the later 1907-1910 fourth-floor operating dome and wing additions designed by Washington, DC architects Wood, Donn, and Deming. In addition, the change from a pedestrian scale to a vehicular scale was reflected in the incorporation of concrete porte-cocheres over the entrances in the 1940-41 wing additions designed by Richmond, VA architects Marcellus Wright & Son, Associates.
Survey number: HABS VA-1287-A