The army originally established Camp Lowell in 1866 on the outskirts of Tucson. Because of unsanitary conditions there, in 1873 the army moved the post here, 7 miles northeast of Tucson. Fort Lowell, so designated in 1879, boasted four companies of cavalry and infantry. It was one of 12 large military posts in Arizona Territory during the last quarter of the 19th century, the final years of the Apache Wars. The fort closed in 1891.
The Fort Lowell hospital had 13 rooms and accommodated 16 beds. The building was 60 feet wide and 120 feet long. The facility also contained an isolation ward, a surgeon's office, a dispensary, storerooms, a wash room, morgue, and quarters for the enlisted men on the hospital staff.
Fireplaces heated the building in winter. In summer the long hallways encouraged breezes, and shutters, porches, and cottonwood trees shaded it. By the 1880s, a tin roof reduced leaks; plaster and white paint adorned the walls; and wood floors replaced dirt. Behind the hospital, to the east, sat a 20-by-78-foot kitchen building.