Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Former Marine Hospital


For years I've driven by the mysterious old hospital complex on Tchoupitoulas and State and wondered what was behind the 120 year old brick wall.  A few rooftops were always slightly visible from the street, and the peeling rotunda atop the main building stood out like a beckon of abandoned insane asylum goodness.  So of course I jumped at the opportunity to photograph it when the Preservation Resource Center came calling last fall.  

The property dates back to the 1730's, when Bienville himself gave 17 acres upriver to his nephew Pierre, who interestingly enough was later executed for leading revolts against the Spanish rule.  In the 1770's the land was purchased by the first mayor of New Orleans, Jean Etienne de Bore, who transformed it into the first successful sugar plantation in Louisiana, which became the model for the state's economy.  It later became a brick mill and then the Marine Hospital complex in 1883.  Most of the buildings in the current complex date back to the 1930's, when the campus underwent a major overhaul.  The overseer's house, the oldest building still standing, dates back to the early 1830's.  

It was most recently occupied by NOAH, the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital, but was shut down by Jindal in 2009 due to budget concerns.  Children's Hospital, which sits directly across the street, purchased the property in 2014 for $29 million.  They have already begun to transform the main building into administration offices, but much of the campus has remained untouched.  It's a beautiful property, and they have big plans to renovate the campus and expand their current operations.  I'm really glad that most of the buildings are being saved.  This is what preservation is all about.  

For much more info and a brilliantly detailed history of the property, check out the full article by Danielle Del Sol here.  For instance, did you know that New Orleans saw a local outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in 1914, which led to a "rat-proofing" campaign that killed as many as 5,000 rats a day?  Learn more here!  Enjoy the photos...
























Huge reliefs by New Orleans own Enrique Alferez, one of the most significant 20th century art deco artists, still hang in the gym.










5 comments:

  1. Wow. My Grandfather was Medical Director for this hospital 1935-1939. They lived in the officers quarters shown here. Amazing!

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    1. Thanks for the info...that's great!

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  3. My Dad was a doctor stationed there in the 1970s, so I grew up within those brick walls and it is some of the best childhood memories I have! There were many families there during that time, with lots of kids. Too many great stories - Cabbage Ball games & football games in the front yard of the Main Plantation house, annual kids bike race around the residence street loop ....for money!, the older kids building a tree house in one of the big oak trees facing the river, everybody having their birthday parties in the Officers Club next to the tennis courts, kids tennis tournaments, daring each other on who could walk farther around the perimeter on top of the wall, watching some of the parades (Thoth & Elks) from the wall. Man, that was a great time. Feels like it was yesterday, thank you so much for taking those pics. I can see all of my friends in each of those brick cottages, the Plantation house and the Overseers house. I lived in the second brick cottage duplex, across from the plantation house. I actually got to back into those houses/buildings in 2014 and took a lot of pics too. I have one, from the plantation, that everyone says has a ghost in it. Who knows! Anyway, thanks again for stirring up these great memories! Allan

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    1. Allan! I'm just now seeing your comment. Thank you so much for all the great info. What a place to grow up! I'm glad to know that these buildings (well, most of them) will be put back to great use. Thanks again.

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