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Marine Hospital

1834–1866

In 1895 the Marine Hospital building was occupied by the Jenkins Orphanage, founded for black children in 1891 by the Reverend Daniel J. Jenkins, a black Baptist minister.

(Charleston). An act in 1749 to provide a “public hospital for all sick sailors and other transient persons” began the organized care that led to the joint effort by the city of Charleston and the federal government to build the Marine Hospital. In 1830 Congress finally appropriated funds to hire the architect Robert Mills to design a hospital building. After various changes in the proposed location and construction, building began on the Marine Hospital about 1831 and was completed in 1833. The city began its operation in 1834, using federal funds for maintenance. Charleston’s earliest Gothic-revival-style building, the hospital on Franklin Street faced west, with double piazzas for the use of the patients. There were eight wards: three on the first floor for surgical cases and five on the second floor, one for venereal cases and four for medical cases.

At the outbreak of the Civil War the hospital was placed under the direction of the surgeon Alexander N. Talley, medical director of the Confederate forces in South Carolina, but sick seamen still retained the privilege of admission. After a short time the direction of the hospital returned to the municipal authorities, who operated it until the end of the war. Damage from the Union bombardment was so extensive that federal authorities decided the building should be abandoned as a hospital.

From 1866 to 1870 a free school for black children was conducted in the building by the Episcopal Church, staffed by fifteen white Charleston women. In 1895 the Marine Hospital building was occupied by the Jenkins Orphanage, founded for black children in 1891 by the Reverend Daniel J. Jenkins, a black Baptist minister. In 1939 the Housing Authority of Charleston remodeled it as its administrative offices. The two rear wings, weakened by fires, were demolished during the renovation.

Waring, Joseph I. A History of Medicine in South Carolina. 3 vols. Columbia: South Carolina Medical Association, 1964–1971.

–––. “The Marine Hospitals of Charleston.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 10 (December 1941): 651–65.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Marine Hospital
  • Coverage 1834–1866
  • Author
  • Keywords “public hospital for all sick sailors and other transient persons”, architect Robert Mills to design a hospital building, surgeon Alexander N. Talley,
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 30, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 3, 2016
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