Renwick Hospital - Roosevelt Island New York 2009

Designed by the architectural genius, James Renwick Jr., the hospital was built for the modest sum of $35,000 from 1854-6.
The Renwick Smallpox Hospital was the first in the nation to accept patients with this plague or other contagious diseases like scarlet fever, measles, and typhus. It was built to hold a few dozen patients, but from the beginning it was severely overcrowded.
The Renwick Hospital became known as Deadhouse and The Pest House because of the thousands of coffins it ushered out its doors.
Over time, and with the decline of this disease, the hospital was expanded and turned into a very respectful nurse’s training facility. However, Renwick’s Hospital was feeling the weight of its years and was seriously antiquated by the 1950’s and starting to crumble in the 60’s. In those years there were very few preservationist groups and few landmarked buildings, but by the 1970’s the Renwick Smallpox Hospital was officially declared a Landmark.
The State is currently in the process of a $12.9 million ‘Phase One’ project to stabilize the Renwick ruins and build a public park and have already landscaped pathways at the southern end of the Island. This project is trying to be sped up due to the collapse of Renwick’s north wall on December 26 of 2007.

We visited & photographed Renwick mid-September 2009. There is a very wide gap in the fence just to the left of the main gate -- allowing easy access for closer interior shots.
Access to the South Point of the island is hit-or-miss....Luckily the gates were unlocked the day of our visit.


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