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Metro Newsroom

Renovation to Begin on U.S. Marine Hospital

Friday November 11, 2005

Mayor Jerry Abramson and officials from the U.S. Marine Hospital Foundation and State Historic Preservation Office today kicked off restoration work on the153-year-old U.S. Marine Hospital in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood.
When renovated, the U.S. Marine Hospital will serve as an interpretive center to celebrate the historic contributions of the hospital to public health, maritime commerce and local heritage. Open and accessible to visitors and the community, the Marine Hospital also will house agencies and organizations committed to improving community health, with a special focus on urban populations.

“Historic buildings remind us of our heritage and our past, but our job is to make the Marine Hospital a meaningful part of our future,” said Abramson. “Louisville will be watched from all over the country, as we restore a very significant part of our community’s past.”

The Marine Hospital complex will include the administrative offices of the Family Health Center, the Northwest Area Health Education Center and satellite offices of local health professional training programs, such as nursing, medicine, dentistry and public health. The center will include offices, classrooms and a multi-purpose lecture hall/auditorium.

Phase I of restoration is scheduled to take one year at a cost of $2 million. Work will focus on the exterior and includes brick and stone masonry restoration, painting, sheet metal roofing, installation of gutters and downspouts, and restoration of porches, doors, and windows. When completed, the hospital exterior will match its appearance as it was at the end of the 1800s.

Estimated cost of entire restoration project is $7 to $9 million. U.S. Marine Hospital Foundation Chair Mason Rudd is leading the fundraising effort. Kentucky and federal historic preservation tax credits and New Markets tax credits also will be used for this project.

Designed by federal architect Robert Mills, the hospital began serving boatmen on April 1, 1852. The marine hospital is the last standing example of seven original inland marine hospitals built in the United States. The U.S. Marine Hospital was granted status as a National Historic Landmark in 1997, which has helped focus interest in restoring the building.

The City purchased the building in 1950, using it primarily for office space and housing for medical personnel, and then transferred ownership to the Louisville-Jefferson County Board of Health in 1975. It has stood vacant since then.
In 2003, the hospital was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Eleven Most Endangered Places list. It also has received a $375,000 Save America’s Treasures grant from the National Parks Service. John Milner Associates, Inc., of Louisville will serve as Historic Preservation Architects for the project. Schaefer General Contracting Services will provide skilled restoration professionals.