Amazing old time Photo of the U.S. Naval Hospital formerly located on Pattison Ave. between Broad & 20th Streets in packer Park, South Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Naval Hospital was the first high-rise hospital building constructed by the United States Navy. At its 1935 opening it represented a state-of-the-art facility for the Navy with 650 beds and a total floor space of 352,000 square feet (32,700 m2). The dedicated medical purpose of this facility contributed to the World War II mission as the center for amputation, orthopedic and prosthetic services for Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard veterans residing east of the Rocky Mountains.
The complex was developed as a tree-lined campus of 56 buildings and structures with the main high-rise building placed at the center and augmented with amenities of a Navy Base Exchange (BX) and gas station. The central building was flanked by lower buildings in a classical Beaux-Arts arrangement. It was a striking 15-story Art Deco steel-framed tower, faced with yellow brick and brown terra cotta and described in a survey of Philadelphia architecture as “one of the finest Art Deco buildings in the city.” The height was a significant departure from the two- or three-story naval hospital complexes that preceded it. Detailing the building’s interior included such significant features as anodized aluminum heater gratesdepicting a ship in full sail. The grates were set in marble panels in the vestibule and below were air intakes in the shape of dolphins.
By the late 1970s declining use of the facility and studies that determined the building incapable of being renovated for modern medical use signaled the end of the hospital’s role as major medical facility for the Navy. In 1988, under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1988 (BRAC), the Philadelphia Naval Hospital was slated for closure and disposal. All functions were relocated from the complex in 1993, and since that date the buildings were vacant and overseen by a small security and maintenance staff. The city of Philadelphia was approved to purchase it for re-use. It was finally demolished on June 9, 2001 at 7:02 A.M.