Mount Alto Veterans Hospital, as it appeared between about 1930 and 1967. (Historical Society of Washington)
The 1919 city directory shows the National School of Domestic Art and Science sharing an address with the Mount Alto Inn, and with a public health service facility called Veterans Hospital No. 32; a year later only the hospital remained.
The government leased the property in 1919, and purchased it in 1920. From the beginning, the facility was inadequate.
Pass Mt. Alto Hospital Bill.––House Members Not Influenced by Charges of Profiteering Here.––The land and buildings of the National School of Domestic Art and Sciences at Mount Alto would be purchased for a government hospital for $460,000 under a bill also authorizing $90,000 more for additions to the plant passed yesterday by the House and sent to the Senate.
During the debate Representative Lanham (Democrat), of Texas, declared that the buildings had an assessed valuation of $483,876. This latter statement caused Representative Crowther (Republican), of New York, to denounce the “high-handed, highbinding tactics of the profiteers in the District of Columbia.”
The hospital will be conducted by the public health service for discharged sick and disabled soldiers, sailors and marines, and will provide accommodations for at least 300 men.
(Washington Post, May 22, 1920, p.6)
Seeks $500,000 For Hospital At Mt. Alto––“A bill was introduced by Senator Ashurst, of Arizona, yesterday appropriating $16,000,000 for additional hospital facilities for persons who served in the world war, of which $500,000 is directed to be used for the extension of Mount Alto hospital in this city.” “Under the bill the director of the veterans bureau would be directed to turn over, out of the total appropriation, the sum of $500,000 to the secretary of the Treasury, “who shall use it for extending the facilities of the United States public health service hospital No. 32 (Mount Alto), Washington, D.C., by constructing such additional buildings as are necessary to make the same an equipped 400-bed hospital, such additional construction to include one ward building and quarters for the necessary personnel, and such miscellaneous work, including improvement of the grounds as may be necessary, and to acquire at not to exceed the sum of $50,000, such additional land adjoining the hospital as may be necessary for this development.”
(Washington Post, November 4, 1921, p.3)
“Recent inspection of the hospital disclosed that cramped quarters of the nurses is one of the outstanding defects. The nurses have been forced in many instances to sleep in the hospital instead of in separate dormitories. The authorized construction will do much to relieve this congestion, it is felt.”
“$75,000 Structure Ordered To Relieve Mt. Alto Hospital”, Washington Post, September 15, 1923, p.2)
“[Frank J. Irwin, national rehabilitation chairman of the Disabled American Veterans told a house committee on public buildings and grounds] that if the veterans’ bureau plans to improve the hospital stuation here, the Mount Alto hospital, on Wisconsin avenue, should be completed.”
“Committee In House On Veterans Affairs Will Be Named Soon––Plans For Mount Alto To Have New Hearing”, Washington Post, January 27, 1924, p.EA17)
Mt. Alto Hospital (Washington Times, September 17, 1928)
“Built in 1917 as a girls’ domestic science school, the four original buildings of Mount Alto were taken over for a veterans’ hospital two years later. The hospital is outmoded except for a building containing 150 beds that was built in 1932.”
“Capital to Get Hospital for 750 Veterans”, Washington Post, October 19, 1945, p.13)
Mrs. J.D. Oliphant, President of the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Legion, at Mount Alto Hospital, May 10, 1925. (National Photo Company glass negative, Shorpy)
In 1922 the Mount Alto Hospital still consisted of six communal residences in a horseshoe configuration. (Army Air Corps aerial photo, 1922)
Mount Alto Hospital, 1931; to the right of the original campus is the new main building, added circa 1930. (“Skyviews of Washington”, Washington Post, November 26, 1931, p.20)
Mount Alto Hospital, 1965; just to the right of the Carillon House, at 2500 Wisconsin Avenue, the old Hunt house can be seen, which had been moved from its former location at the crest of the hill. (Archive of the U.S. Naval Observatory)
Aerial view of Mount Alto Veterans Hospital (file photo, Washington Post, September 28, 1967, p.A14)
In 1965 the remaining patients of Mount Alto Hospital were moved to Soldiers’ Home. In 1967 the buildings were razed, and it was announced that the government of the Soviet Union had agreed to locate its new embassy and chancery on the site of the former hospital. (At the same time, the United States approved a new site for its embassy expansion in Moscow.)
One of the original communal residences designed by Charle Francis Wood. (Washington Post, Times Herald, September 26, 1967, p.B1)
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