Tour of Duty
— Barracks Row Heritage Trail —
In 1866 the Navy completed the hospital you see across the street to treat injured and ailing seamen. With beds for 50, it included the carriage house/stable and cast-iron fence and (around the corner) the gazebo. Its front door originally was on E Street facing the nearby Navy Yard and Marine Barracks; later occupants entered from Pennsylvania Avenue.
The hospital's first patient was 24-year-old African American seaman Benjamin Drummond, admitted in June 1866 with a gunshot wound to his leg received in a Civil War battle three years before. After escaping from a Confederate prison in Texas, Drummond returned to duty, but when his old wound gave him trouble, he was hospitalized at the modern facility here. In 1868 Drummond was discharged with a government pension.
By 1906 the hospital was deemed "antiquated," and it closed briefly, reopening as the Hospital Corps Training School, where sailors learned nursing, hygiene and anatomy. From 1922 until 1963 it was the Temporary Home for Old Soldiers and Sailors. Since 1963 the building has been leased to District of Columbia government agencies. In 2000 concerned neighbors formed the Friends of the Old Naval Hospital to promote the restoration of the building and grounds.
As you walk along Ninth Street to the next Barracks Row Heritage Trail sign, be sure to note the variety of architectural styles. These houses were occupied by residents of all tastes and economic levels who nonetheless lived side by side in this neighborhood.
With thanks for research by Dan Daly and Friends of the Old Naval Hospital
Records of the Naval Hospital's first patient, Benjamin Drummond National Archives
Drummond first served on this sailing ship USS Portsmouth Naval Historical Center
Number 509 Ninth Street, a Romanesque Revival House on two lots (above, left) was built in 1896 by L. M. Chilton, later owners ran a grocery store here. The four houses next door at 513 through 519 (left) are typical 15-foot-wide, post-Civil War brick row houses built for middle-class Navy Yard workers. Across the street at 1518 (above, right) is a Civil War era "shotgun" house, an inexpensive style usually built by its working class owner. Photographs  by John Shore
The 17th Class of the Hospital Training Corps [sic
] posed in front of the Naval Hospital in 1909. National Archives
[Photo on reverse:]
This view of the Naval Hospital was made just a few years after it opened in 1866 Washingtoniana Division, D.C. Public Library