Construction on Galena's Marine Hospital, authorized by an act of congress, began in 1857 and was completed in 1860. Ely S. Parker was appointed superintendent of construction. Parker, a full-blooded Seneca Indian, later became a General on Ulysses S. Grant's staff. General Grant's Galena home is just blocks away. The hospital cost $43,430 to build. The structure was all brick with walls two foot thick. Ceilings were of of brick and I-beam construction. This served as a method of fireproofing, but it also helped to keep the temperature constant.In addition, the floors are able to support tremendous weight. The third floor originally contained two large wards, the apothecary shop, and two full baths. The main floor had a parlor, bedroom, office, sitting room and a full bath. The basement had the kitchen, laundry room, fruit and vegetable storage room, furnace room, dining room, closets, and a full bath. Cisterns having capacity of 30,000 gallons were constructed for water supply. An elaborate sewer system was added, complete with tunnel and branch system. The whole building was heated by a hot air furnace, along with numerous fireplaces and wood stoves. The hospital was closed in 1865, deemed to costly to operate. Patient costs were $3.00 a week, physician fees ran $1.75 a week, and medicine costs ran $.70 a week.
In later years, the hospital was home to the German English Normal school, the Nash Sanitarium, and the Nash Medical company from 1912-1933. It also has had many private owners through the years. This is one of the few remaining Marine hospitals in the country.
This old postcard shows two boats about to pass each other on the Galena River. It is a dark and stormy night. Half-way up the hill is a mansion with lights on. This is the Marine Hospital.
Circa 1870 photo showing the marine Hospital during the period it was home to the German Normal School.
Marine Hospital shortly after completion circa 1860.