Historic Preservation

  • Maggie Sollman, Rohan Lewis, and Kecia Fong survey the hospital's north facade during the summer fieldwork season. (Photo: Starr Herr-Cardillo)

  • The hospital's grounds and gardens provide a peaceful setting for patients, staff, and the public. (Photo: Starr Herr-Cardillo)

  • Maps helped the team track the evolution of the site and surrounding blocks. Changes seen in maps and verified in historical accounts and other forms of documentation, were translated to a set of diagrams that illustrate change over time. 

  • Historic photographs have helped the team understand how different parts of the hospital functioned and identify historic features that remain. 

  • Historical drawings and plans illustrate the architectural and engineering innovations in hospital design in response to evolving theories of health and the transmission of disease, such as this heating and ventilation diagram, made in 1876. (The Athenaeum of Philadelphia)

Pennsylvania Hospital Conservation Management Plan

Ongoing work by PennPraxis and the Center for Architectural Conservation

PennPraxis and the Center for Architectural Conservation are developing a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the Pennsylvania Hospital, located in Philadelphia’s Center City. Founded in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Bond, Pennsylvania Hospital is the nation’s oldest chartered hospital and a direct expression of the American Enlightenment ideals behind many of Philadelphia’s enduring civic institutions. In continuous use for more than 260 years, the Hospital’s Pine Building is a designated National Historic Landmark. Notable features of the site include a fine art collection, a medical library, the Physic garden—an addition made during the Bicentennial to showcase medicinal plants of the 18th century—and the surgical amphitheater, used for teaching until the mid-1800s. While some portions of the hospital, such as the historic library and surgical amphitheater, are used as museum and exhibition spaces, all aspects of the hospital from its historic buildings and gardens to its more contemporary structures support the day-to-day operation and mission of patient care. The CMP will identify a range of values and physical elements that are integral to the site’s significance and outline policies and recommendations that help management prioritize, sustain, and communicate that significance over time, through future change and adaptation.

Over the summer, the project team had the pleasure of working with Praxis Fellows Rohan Lewis (MLA ’21) and Maggie Sollman (HSPV ’21). Rohan and Maggie assisted with field work, including archival research and documentation. They synthesized research findings into illustrative graphics showing the evolution of the site and structures over time. The project is being led by Program Chair Frank Matero, managed by Kecia Fong and Starr Herr-Cardillo, and guided by faculty members Aaron Wunsch, Nicholas Pevsner, and Michael Henry. The final CMP is expected to be complete by August, 2021.