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Smallpox Hospital

Smallpox Hospital







Description of Smallpox Hospital

Location: Roosevelt Island, New York City, NY


Smallpox Hospital is an abandoned building of a former medical facility located on Roosevelt Island in the heart of New York City in a state of New York. Designed by the architect James Renwick Jr. in Neo-Gothic style, the Smallpox Hospital, with a capacity of one hundred beds, was opened in 1856 in the isolated south end of the island, to guarantee of the smallpox patients, both in charity (in a common room) and in payment (in private rooms of the upper floors). In 1875 Smallpox Hospital closed and became a nursing school, associated with City Hospital. Between 1903 and 1905 two wings were added to the building, in the same neo-Gothic style, to accommodate the growing number of students. The final closure of Smallpox Hospital occurred in the 1950s, with the relocation of the facilities to Queens, and the building gradually fell into ruin. On March 16, 1972 the building, together with the City Hospital, was inscribed in the National Register of Historic Places and there is a project to rehabilitate the ruins and open them to the public.




"Renwick Ruin"
Buildings of the Smallpox Hospital 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 Smallpox 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 after former President 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.

According to the AIA Guide to New York City, the remains of the Smallpox Hospital have the quality that architectural historian Paul Zucker, in his 1968 book Fascination of Decay, ascribed to ruins in general: "[A]n expression of an eerie romantic mood ... a palpable documentation of a period in the past ... something which recalls a specific concept of architectural space and proportion." The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, in its 1976 report designating the ruins a New York City landmark, speculated that "The Smallpox Hospital could easily become the American equivalent of the great Gothic ruins of England, such as the late 13th century Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire, which has been admired and cherished since the 18th century as a romantic ruin," and described the building as "a picturesque ruin, one that could readily serve as the setting for a 19th century Gothic romance."