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Home Working with Section 106 ACHP Case Digest Spring 2005 District of Columbia: Reuse of the West Campus of St. Elizabeth's Hospital
District of Columbia: Reuse of the West Campus of St. Elizabeth's Hospital
Agency: General Services Administration
The General Services Administration (GSA) is preparing a master plan to reuse St. Elizabeths Hospitals west campus for Federal offices. Located on a hill in southeast Washington, DC, overlooking the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, St. Elizabeths offers a panoramic view of the city and is an important asset in the Governments real estate portfolio.
The National Historic Landmark was originally known as the Government Hospital for the Insane, a name that was later changed to its present name. As the first Federal mental health facility in the country, the hospital was established through the Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Act of 1852, and admitted its first patients in 1855. Its campus includes two Civil War cemeteries where both black and white soldiers are buried.
Many legendary Americans were associated with the hospitals early days. It was founded by Dorothea Dix, the leading mental health reformer of the 19th century. During a short period as a general hospital for Union soldiers, a room was reserved for President Lincoln during his frequent overnight visits to soldiers. In 1862, wounded General Joseph Hooker was admitted to the hospital. Finally, Architect of the Capitol Thomas Walter designed one of the buildings, and the 182-acre campus boasts landscaping by Frederick Law Olmsteads design firm.
In 1987, the Federal Government retained ownership of the hospitals west campus but transferred the hospitals operations to the District of Columbia, which now ministers to about 600 patients. GSA sees the site as a premiere Washington, DC, property that can meet the needs of Federal agencies that require a large space.
It will be challenged by its plan to incorporate new uses of a historic landmark while managing an extremely significant cultural resource. In addition, security issues for the future Federal tenant must be factored into the plan. Finally, the project must consider its significant effect on the immediate neighborhood, which it is hoped will be revitalized by the project.
In February 2005, the ACHP met with the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Officer to discuss initial consultation procedures under the Section 106 review process. Under its plan, GSA anticipates the first Federal tenant to move in to the property by 2010. In the meantime, however, in addition to developing its master plan for the project, GSA is currently establishing design guidelines and conducting a cultural resource survey and building, landscape, and archeology assessment.
As part of the Section 106 review process, the agency expects to produce a draft environmental impact statement on the projects potential effects by January 2006, and has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed project for February 2006.
Staff contact: Hector Abreu Cintron
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