Smallpox Hospital - Roosevelt Island
Smallpox Hospital - Roosevelt IslandSmallpox Building
Smallpox Hospital - Roosevelt IslandFour Freedoms Park, Under Construction
The New York Landmarks Conservancy pledged $17,000 to the non-profit Four Freedoms Park, roughly half the cost of an engineering study to permanently stabilize the former Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island. The report, to be prepared by Robert Silman Associates, will also include plans to make the site accessible to the public.
The Gothic landmark, designed by James Renwick Jr. and built in 1854, is just north of the new Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. The Silman study will include analysis of the condition of all existing standing walls as well as portions of the walls that were dismantled and crated on site in an earlier, partial stabilization. The ultimate goal is to piece the structure back together, build within, and reuse portions of it as a visitor center and office for the Four Freedoms Park.
The Conservancy has long championed the stabilization of the so-called Renwick Ruin, and helped convince the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation to perform partial stabilization eight years ago.
Four Freedoms Park, now nearing completion, was designed by Louis I Kahn as a memorial to FDR. In his early sketches, Kahn included the Smallpox Hospital in the views of the new memorial so it is especially fitting that it serve as a welcoming station for the Park and be part of the visitor’s experience. It is currently fenced off by tall chain link fences.
The Park was part of an urban renewal project undertaken in the administration of John Lindsay to remake Welfare Island into a new residential community and rename it “Roosevelt Island”. Kahn designed the triangular shaped memorial at the southern tip of the narrow island shortly before his death in 1974. The New York Times wrote approvingly of the memorial’s design: “It has long seemed to us that the ideal place for a memorial to FDR would be on Welfare Island, which would be renamed Roosevelt Island in his honor. It would face the sea he loved, the Atlantic he bridged, the Europe he helped save, and the United Nations he inspired.”