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Abandoned Surgeon's House

Abandoned Surgeon's House. National Historic Landmark at Brooklyn Navy Yard. Built in 1850s. Soon to be restored by Steiner's Studios.


This is how it was described in 1976 (taken from


The property on which the Surgeon's House and the hospital building are located was originally farmland; it was sold to the U.S. Navy in 1824 by the heirs of Martin Schenck, a member of one of Brooklyn's oldest families. The hospital site, consisting of some thirty-three acres, was then hilly land surrounded by swamps and mud-flats, which were later filled in and Incorporated In the Navy Yard. In the 1820s an old house, the Livingston mansion, served as the hospital. The new building of the U.S. Marine Hospital, a fine marble-faced Greek Revival structure, was completed in 1833 and two years later, wings were added. It was planned to accommodate about one hundred and twenty-five patients and was devoted to the care of injured and ill seamen. A laboratory building and a small cemetery were located nearby.


With the outbreak of the Civil War the Brooklyn Navy Yard immediately began to expand its activities. Under the command of the distinguished Admiral Hiram Paulding (1797-1873), the Yard, with a work force of over five thousand, fitted out some four hundred merchant marine vessels as cruisers. When wounded and ill Navy men began arriving in New York, the Hospital was also enlarged to meet war-time demands. A temporary wooden annex was erected and as many as five hundred patients were treated at one time. The head surgeon from 1862 until 1666 was Or, Thomas L. Smith. The Surgeon's House was planned during his administration.


A handsome set of framed drawings and plans, dated January 1, 1863, are still preserves at the Surgeon's House. They depict the building very much as it appears today. The construct ion of the house was carried out by two local Brooklyn residents, True. W, Rollins, a builder, and Charles Hastings, a civil engineer.


The Surgeon's House (s constructed of brick with a concave mansard roof, which shows the influence of the French Second Empire style in this country. The mansard roof, hallmark of the style, made its first appearance in America in the (ate 1850s. The roof of the Surgeon's House is a low mansard with concave profile, typical of early Second Empire design. The style reached its height of popularity in this country in the late 1860s. Numerous residential quarters built by the U.S. Navy reveal its influence, among them, a series of seven identical houses ejected in 1867 at Newport, Rhode Island.


The Surgeon's House, now painted white with brown trim, is two stories in height with a full attic in the mansard roof, A spacious house of sixteen rooms, it is divided into two main sections, the house proper and a servants' wing. The entrance facade is symmetrically designed with a central doorway approached by stairs flanked by low balustrades. Pairs of tall elegant segmental-arched windows with small balconies are placed at each side of the entrance, and segmental-arched windows appear at the second story. The corn: cos and sills of these windows rest on small corbel blocks. The cornice of the building has bracket's which support the overhang of the concave mansard roof. The dormer windows, with roofs which echo the profile of the main roof, are typical of the French Second Empire style. Segmental-arched and square-headed windows appear on the side elevations of the house and at the north, a handsome projecting three-sided bay is located at the first story. The house is pleasantly landscaped and approached by a curved driveway,


This residence, like the other designated Mew York City Landmarks in the Brooklyn Navy Yard—the U.S. Marine Hospital, the Commandant's House and the Dry Dock No. 1 — is an important reminder of the long and interesting history of this military complex. Beautifully maintained and officially regarded by the U.S. Navy as "prestige quarters", the house is a very handsome example of mid-19th century American residential architecture.


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Taken on September 15, 2012