List of U.S. Public Health Service Hospitals

This is a list of U.S. Marine Hospitals and Public Health Service Hospitals that operated during the system's existence from 1798 to 1981. The Marine Hospital Service was founded in 1798; it was renamed the U.S. Public Health Service in 1912, and the hospital system became part of the Public Health Service's Bureau of Medical Services when it was created in 1943. The number of major hospitals peaked at thirty in 1943, and declined to nine in 1970. The system was abolished in 1981. Many of the hospitals were transferred to other organizations and are still in use as a variety of purposes, including as hospitals, offices, apartments, and historical sites.


Locations of Marine Hospitals opened prior to 1872. The hospitals still operating in 1872 are marked in blue.[1]
Locations of major PHS hospitals in 1936. The cities that retained PHS hospitals after 1953 are marked in yellow, and those that retained them after 1970 are marked in blue.[2][3][4]

The Marine Hospital Service (MHS) was founded in 1798. Although the system was funded and largely operated by the federal government, they were locally managed with little centralized oversight, and with many positions filled through political patronage. In 1870, MHS was reorganized into a centralized administration led by the Surgeon General and staffed by a Commissioned Corps of officers.[5]

As of 1873, 31 Marine Hospitals had been built by the government, of which 10 remained in operation: Chelsea, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Louisville, Mobile, Pittsburgh, Portland, St. Louis, and Key West. Of the rest, fourteen were sold, one was transferred to the War Department, one abandoned, one burned, one destroyed by a flood, one by a hurricane, one was damaged by an earthquake and abandoned; one remained unfinished due to its completion being impracticable.[6]

Over the late nineteenth century, MHS was given authority over domestic and foreign quarantine functions, and expanded into other public health activities. In 1899 it split itself into divisions for the first time, with the Division of Hospitals administering the hospital system. The Marine Hospital Service changed its name to the Public Health Service (PHS) in 1912.[7]

At the end of World War I, PHS instituted a numbering system for hospitals, with numbers 1–23 assigned alphabetically to major Marine Hospitals that were operating or recently closed, with higher numbers going to a large number of new Public Health Service Hospitals at facilities transferred from the U.S. Army.[8] Many of these new hospitals were transferred in 1922[7] to the newly created Veterans Bureau, which assumed responsibility for veterans' health benefits from the PHS.[9][10]

Beginning in the late 1920s and continuing through the New Deal era, a significant building campaign upgraded several hospitals into large, monumental buildings, in contrast with the smaller buildings common for the 19th-century buildings.[10] By 1936, hospitals were divided into first-class Marine Hospitals, plus second- through fourth-class hospitals.[2]

In 1943, PHS collected its divisions into three operating agencies, and the Division of Hospitals became part of the Bureau of Medical Services.[7][11] That year, the hospital system had reached its peak of 30 hospitals.[12] In 1951, all hospitals were redesignated Public Health Service Hospitals.[3] As of 1957, the Division of Hospitals operated 13 hospitals, 24 outpatient clinics, plus two neuropsychiatric hospitals and the National Leprosarium, and contracted with 155 other locations.[13] In 1965, there were 12 general hospitals and the 3 special hospitals.[12][14]

During the PHS reorganizations of 1966–1973, The Bureau of Medical Services was broken up, and the Division of Hospitals became the Federal Health Programs Service, and then in 1973 became a different Bureau of Medical Services within the Health Services Administration.[7][15]

The system came under pressure for closure starting in the late 1970s, as healthcare needs for sailors were dwindling, and healthcare for veterans was being taken over by the Veterans Administration.[10] The PHS hospital system was finally abolished during the Reagan administration in 1981, with the last eight general hospitals transferred to other organizations.[3][16] The federal government would however continue to operate the National Leprosarium until 1999.[17]


The start year indicates when the hospital opened or was acquired by MHS/PHS. The end year indicates when the hospital was closed, converted to a clinic, or transferred to another organization.

While this list currently emphasizes hospitals considered major at some point in the system's history. There were also very many hospitals of lower statuses.[2][7][8]

Photo Location Start End Notes Refs

East CoastEdit

  Portland, Maine 1859 1952 Converted to clinic; Old Marine Hospital is NRHP-listed [1][3][8]
  Boston, Massachusetts/
Chelsea, Massachusetts
1800 1981 The first Marine Hospital established; it had six homes: temporarily at Castle Island in 1800, then two buildings in Charlestown in 1804 and 1825, two buildings in Chelsea in 1827 and 1857, and its final building in Brighton in 1940, which is now a private hospital [4][8][18][19]
Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts 1879 1952 [3][8]
Newport, Rhode Island ca. 1802 May have been temporary [1][5]
New Haven, Connecticut [5][7]
  Stapleton, Staten Island, New York 1831 1981 Notable for the 1858 Staten Island Quarantine War and being the birthplace of the predecessor of the National Institutes of Health in 1887; moved to present site in 1883; new building constructed in 1930s; became Bayley Seton Hospital [4][8][20][21]
Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn, New York 1960 [3][22]
  Neponsit, Queens, New York 1950 Became Neponsit Beach Hospital [3]
  Ellis Island, New York 1951 See Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital [3]
  Baltimore, Maryland 1887 1981 [4][8]
  Washington, District of Columbia 1961–
Freedman's Hospital; became Howard University Hospital [3][7]
  Washington, District of Columbia 1940 1968 See St. Elizabeths Hospital. Opened 1855 and was operated by the U.S. Army and then the Department of the Interior, transferred to PHS in 1940, and then to the National Institute of Mental Health in 1968; the eastern half of the campus is now operated by the District of Columbia, while the western half is now the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security [7][23]
Norfolk, Virginia 1800 1981 Built in 1787 by the State of Virginia, transferred to the federal government in 1800, sold off shortly after the Civil War; new building constructed 1922, now a U.S. Navy facility [4][8][24]
Ocracoke, North Carolina 1847 Abandoned before 1869 [1]
Wilmington, North Carolina 1881 Original building completed 1860 and sold 1870, never used as Marine Hospital [1][7][8]
  Charleston, South Carolina 1833 Old Marine Hospital is NRHP-listed [7][25]
Savannah, Georgia 1906 1969 Converted to clinic [3][8]
San Juan, Puerto Rico 1952 Converted to clinic [3]

Gulf CoastEdit

  Key West, Florida 1845 1943 Converted to clinic [1][3][8][26]
St. Marks, Florida 1859 ca. 1861 [1]
  Pensacola, Florida [1][7]
  Mobile, Alabama 1843 1952 Became Class II hospital after Civil War; converted to clinic; Old Marine Hospital is NRHP-listed [1][3][8]
  New Orleans, Louisiana 1847 1981 Relocated several times during 1858–1885, with a building under construction in 1867 that was never used; new campus opened 1883, which was largely demolished and replaced with current building that opened in 1933 [1][8][10][4][27]
  Galveston, Texas/
Nassau Bay, Texas
1931 1981 Nassau Bay hospital opened in 1972 as a private hospital, but went bankrupt a few years later and was taken over by PHS, replacing the Galveston hospital; became Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital [4][28][29][30]
  Fort Worth, Texas 1938 1967 Narcotics hospital; now Federal Medical Center, Fort Worth [3]

Mississippi RiverEdit

  Carville, Louisiana 1921 1999 National Leprosarium; became NRHP-listed Carville Historic District [3][17]
  Natchez, Mississippi 1852 Leased out after Civil War [1][5]
Vicksburg, Mississippi 1856 1870 [1][5]
Napoleon, Arkansas 1955 ca. 1861 Destroyed by flood in 1868 [1][5]
  Memphis, Tennessee 1884 1965 New building opened 1937; converted to clinic; NRHP-listed; part is now National Ornamental Metal Museum [3][8][31]
  St. Louis, Missouri/
Kirkwood, Missouri
1858 1952 New building opened 1882; St. Louis hospital replaced by new Kirkwood facility in 1939 [1][3][5][7][8][32][33]
  Cairo, Illinois 1886 1919 [8]
  Galena, Illinois 1861 1986 [1][5]
Burlington, Iowa 1858 1865 [1]

Ohio RiverEdit

Paducah, Kentucky 1852 1861 Burned in 1862 [1][5]
Evansville, Indiana 1856 1947 Original building sold in 1867; new building opened 1892; converted to clinic [1][3][8]
  Louisville, Kentucky 1852 1946 New building constructed 1933; converted to clinic; Old Marine Hospital is NRHP-listed [1][3][8][34]
  Cincinnati, Ohio 1882 1905 Original hospital constructed in 1860, but became a military hospital upon completion and was never used as Marine Hospital; later hospital located in former Kilgour Mansion, built around 1815; in 1912 it was reopened as PHS Stream Pollution Investigations Station [1][7][35][36][37][38]
  Lexington, Kentucky 1935 1967 Narcotics hospital; now Federal Medical Center, Lexington [3]
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1851 1949 New building opened in 1909; converted to clinic, now occupied by Allegheny County Health Department's Frank B. Clack Health Center; part of NRHP-listed Lawrenceville Historic District [1][3][8][39][40]

Great LakesEdit

Burlington, Vermont 1858 1866 Never used due to lack of patients [1]
  Buffalo, New York 1909 1949 Converted to clinic [3][8]
Cleveland, Ohio 1852 1953 Converted to clinic [1][3][8]
  Detroit, Michigan 1857 1969 Converted to clinic; part of Old Marine Hospital is NRHP-listed as U.S. Immigration Station Detroit [1][3][8]
  Chicago, Illinois 1852 1965 New building opened 1873; converted to clinic [1][3][8][41]

Western U.S.Edit

  Port Townsend/
Seattle, Washington
1883 1981 Port Angeles location sold in 1869; Government took over private Port Townsend hospital in 1883, replaced with new building in 1896; Port Townsend hospital converted to clinic and replaced with Seattle hospital in 1933; transferred to City of Seattle in 1981, became Pacific Tower [1][3][4][8][42][43][44][45]
  San Francisco, California 1854 1981 Original building at Rincon Point; new building opened in 1975, located on the Presidio of San Francisco; reopened as apartments in 2010, see Public Health Service Hospital (San Francisco) [1][4][8][46][47]
  Fort Stanton, New Mexico 1898 1953 Tuberculosis sanatorium; created from former Fort Stanton; NRHP-listed [3]
  Lahaina, Hawaii 1844 1862 [48]


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