This Virginia historical site is not available to visit due to military security. Originally known as the Norfolk Naval Hospital, this famous facility was an outgrowth of the 1798 Congressional act creating the Marine Hospital Service. Fort Nelson, a Revolutionary War defense work guarding the Norfolk harbor, was chosen as the hospital site in 1826.
The architect, John Haviland of Philadelphia, produced a preeminent work of Greek Revival institutional architecture. The decastyle Doric portico, finished in what Haviland described as “chisel dressed Virginia freestone,” is a masterpiece of monumentality. Distinctive are the narrow frieze windows forming the triglyphs. The shallow dome capping the operating room was added during a 1907 expansion.
The hospital has had a distinguished record of service, treating naval casualties of every American conflict since its opening. Now flanked by modern hospital facilities, Haviland’s original structure is undergoing a careful rehabilitation. The original building is on both the Virginia and National Registers of Historic Places. (Courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources)