Old Naval Hospital. Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey. Library of Congress

The Life, Decline, and Rebirth of the Old Naval Hospital

April 19, 2011
On April 19, 2011, as renovation of the Old Naval Hospital at 9th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE was nearing completion, art and architectural historian Kamissa Mort delivered an Overbeck Lecture detailing the history of the building and its site.

The Capitol Hill landmark, now reborn as the Hill Center, was built to treat wounded Navy veterans of the Civil War. Over the years, it evolved from hospital, to medical training school, to old soldiers' and sailors' home, to office space for various DC agencies and public service activities, before falling into serious disrepair and neglect. In 2002 concerned Capitol Hill residents formed the Old Naval Hospital Foundation to rehabilitate the facility and make it a center for lifelong learning, cultural events and community life.

Mort based her lecture on the documentation, photos and artifacts that have been collected by a number of neighborhood researchers. A significant part of her presentation was devoted to the unanswered question of who designed the hospital.

Mort earned a masters degree in the history of decorative arts and architecture from the Smithsonian’s joint program with the Corcoran College of Art and Design, and has worked as a visitor guide and historian at the U.S. Capitol. In 2010 she curated an exhibit on Arctic explorer and artist Russell W. Porter at the National Archives.

Past Lectures