Saturday, May 5, 2018

The History of Marine Hospital of Chicago.

The First Marine Hospital of Chicago. (1852-1871)
The first Marine Hospital of Chicago was built upon the old parade ground of the Fort Dearborn reservation, the ground being set apart for this purpose about the year 1848, the building and enclosure being completed March 15, 1852, and first occupied in May of that year.
The boundaries of the old hospital lot were Michigan Avenue on the west, the Illinois Central Railroad on the east, a part of the Government reservation on the south, and the river and dockway on the north. Work on the building was delayed in the summer of 1849, owing to the prevalence of the cholera, but the basement was finished in the fall of that year. 
Up to the fiscal year ending June 30, 1861, the total amount paid on account of the hospital was $57,712, and during war-time, the rule was that none but sailors should be received there, was impinged, for patriotic purposes, by the admission and treatment of soldiers.

J. D. Webster, the harbor engineer, was the disbursing agent, and John H. Kinzie acted as banker for the Government.

The old hospital building, at the site of the Old Fort Dearborn, was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871

The Second Marine Hospital of Chicago. (1872-1969)
Work on a new hospital, at 4141 North Clarendon, began in 1869 and was completed in 1872 at a cost of $452,000. 
The building, four-stories plus a basement, occupied a 12-acre tranquil site near Buena Park and Lake Michigan in Lake View Township (in 1889 Lake View Township was annexed into Chicago), now the Uptown Community on the North Side of Chicago. The entire building was built of Joliet-Lemont limestone sporting handsome stone porches which graced the various fronts. The main building, which measured 350×60 feet containing the offices, executive departments, dispensary, and administrative department. The wings each contain three wards, accomodating twenty patients to each thirty-foot ward. The building was refitted in 1879 under the supervision of Dr. Truman W. Willer.”
The hosptial served beneficiary seamen including those who were navigating rivers and inland waters. During the life of the hospital, over seven thousand patients were treated.

The hospital fund, from which the expenses of the various marine hospitals were paid, is derived from a tax of forty cents per month levied upon all seamen employed ”on board registered steamers and other vessels belonging to the United States, engaged in foreign trade; and all steamers, and other vessels, including boats, rafts and flats, licensed to carry on the coasting trade, except canal-boats without masts or steam power.”

An issue of American Architect from December 1900 reported the later addition of a boiler house, isolation ward, and laundry, all designed by James K. Taylor.

The Marine Hospital, the 1965 HABS report concluded, was in “good condition” but adjacent to a “slowly deteriorating neighborhood.” Several state and city agencies competed for the site. Plans for the reuse of the building included a junior college and a comprehensive outpatient clinic. In 1969, the public building commission approved to acquire the site of the Marine Hospital for a magnet elementary school, the first magnet school in Chicago. It was demolished in 1969

Today, the Disney Magnet School occupies the site where the Marine Hospital once stood.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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