A Lincoln-commissioned naval hospital opens its
doors in its newest reincarnation as a vibrant cultural community
IN 1864, THE SAME YEAR that Congress mandated funds for Arlington Cemetery, Abraham Lincoln commissioned $25,000 for construction of Washington, D.C.’s first naval hospital just blocks from the Capitol. Two years later, the 50-bed facility received it first patient, a 24-year-old African American seaman named Benjamin Drummond. Over the last decade, the Old Naval Hospital Foundation has raised more than $10 million to renovate the threestory building, its monumental cast-iron fence, gardens, and horse ambulance stables back to their original appearance. Opening in July, the building and grounds will host Hill Center, which executive director Diana B. Ingraham describes as a “vibrant, campus-like community center for cultural enrichment, lifelong learning, and civic engagement.” See www.hillcenterdc.org.